The latest arbitration offer news has gone down: the Red Sox have offered salary arbitration to Victor Martinez, Adrian Beltre and Felipe Lopez, and declined arbitration to Mike Lowell, Bill Hall and Jason Varitek.
None of these are shocking. Obviously they were going to offer it to Martinez, who is all but signed by the Tigers now. Beltre was a no-brainer too, because whether he stays or goes, he’s not going to go through an arbitration proceeding. It will be because he signs a fat free agent contract someplace. Felipe Lopez is a tactical offering, I’m guessing, most likely predicated by an agreement between him and the team that he would decline such an offer so that the Red Sox could get the sandwich pick. I’m not sure what Lopez gets in exchange, but isn’t it the case that (a) the Sox don’t want to keep Lopez around; and (b) without some agreement, Lopez would jump on it? I don’t know. Maybe they figure he’s worth the risk at $1 million or whatever he made last year and really find sandwich picks to be yummy. Mmmmm . . . sandwiches . . .
The declines make sense too. Mike Lowell is done playing baseball. Bill Hall was making a lot of money — $9 million — so an arbitration offer to him makes so sense, as he’s due way less than that as a free agent. Varitek is no longer in the Red Sox’ plans.
Teams still have until midnight to offer arbitration to their free agents.
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.
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.