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Mariners prospect Dustin Ackley named Arizona Fall League MVP

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Mariners prospect second baseman Dustin Ackley was named the MVP of the Arizona Fall League today, according to Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com.

Ackley, last year’s No. 2 overall pick, compiled a modest .267 batting average to go along with a .368 on-base percentage and an underwhelming .407 slugging percentage in 134 games between Double-A West Tennessee and Triple-A Tacoma this past season, but is back on track as a legit prospect after tearing up the AFL.

The 22-year-old led the league with a .424 batting average, .581 on-base percentage, .758 slugging percentage, 1.338 OPS and 28 runs scored. In addition to hitting four homers and driving in 15 runs, he also went a perfect 5-for-5 in stolen base attempts.

“That’s an awesome feeling,” Ackley said of receiving the award before Saturday’s championship game. “In April, I didn’t think I could hit any more. As far as I’ve come, with hitting and defense, it’s really special. I watched Grant Desme win it last year, the MVP, and he had put up great numbers during the season and in the Fall League. It’s really special to take it in after him.”

Ackley didn’t have it easy in his first professional season, beginning the year at Double-A while also making the transition to second base. There are still questions about his power and his glove, but he has plate discipline well beyond his years, as evidenced by his 90/101 K/BB ratio during his time between the minors and the Arizona Fall League.

Ackley will enter spring training with a chance to make the Opening Day roster, but Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik told FOXSports.com that he could need some more fine tuning in the minor leagues. Perhaps he’ll change his mind somewhere around Memorial Day next year?

By the way, if you are jonesin’ for some real live baseball, the AFL title game between Ackley’s Peoria Javelinas and Bryce Harper and the Scottsdale Scorpions can be seen right now on MLB.com and MLB Network.

Report: Phillies close to signing Joaquin Benoit

ANAHEIM, CA - SEPTEMBER 15:  Joaquin Benoit #53 of the Toronto Blue Jays pitches during the seventh inning of a game against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim  at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on September 15, 2016 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images
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Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly reports that the Phillies are close to signing free agent reliever Joaquin Benoit. An announcement is expected before the winter meetings end on Thursday.

Benoit, 39, has quietly been among the better relievers in baseball over the past seven years. This past season with the Mariners and Blue Jays, the right-hander put up an aggregate 2.81 ERA with a 52/24 K/BB ratio in 48 innings. That included a 0.38 ERA in 23 2/3 innings after the Jays acquired him from the Mariners.

Benoit suffered a torn calf muscle during a benches-clearing brawl with the Yankees near the end of the regular season. He’s expected to be healthy for spring training.

The Phillies have now added three relievers this offseason with Benoit, Pat Neshek, and David Rollins.

Report: The new collective bargaining agreement reduces players’ meal money

ADVANCE FOR WEEKEND EDITIONS, JAN. 18-19 - This Jan. 15, 2014 photo showing new baseball union head Tony Clark during an interview at the organization's headquarters, in New York. Clark has big shoes to fill _ and not just as Michael Weiner's replacement as head of the baseball players' union. Moving from Arizona to New Jersey, the former big league All-Star also needed to find size 15 snowshoes.  (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
AP Photo/Richard Drew
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ESPN’s Pedro Gomez provides a previously unreported detail of the new collective bargaining agreement, agreed to by the owners and the players’ union last week. Players’ meal money for road games is being reduced from $105 to $30 per day. Teams are providing pre- and post-game meals in the visitors’ clubhouse to offset some of the decrease in meal money.

Gomez quotes an unnamed player who said, “I doubt many guys know about the money going down, nor would they have agreed to it.” All of the players Gomez contacted said they were unaware of and unhappy about the change.

Clubhouse attendants are certainly unhappy about this change, too. As Gomez notes, the attendants previously provided food for visiting teams which earned them tips from the players.

EDIT: It’s worth clarifying that chefs are required in clubhouses now as part of the new CBA, so it’s not a complete loss for the players.