Russell Martin’s agent said today that the rehabbing catcher is in “serious” talks with the Yankees, Red Sox, and Blue Jays after the Dodgers all but ruled out a return by signing both Rod Barajas and Dioner Navarro.
According to Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com the Red Sox have made an offer to Martin, who was non-tendered last week when the Dodgers balked at his request for $5 million in guaranteed money coming off a fractured hip that sidelined him for much of this year.
Boston already has Jason Varitek and Jarrod Saltalamacchia behind the plate, but at his healthy, productive best Martin was an upgrade over both of them and also has the defensive versatility to play elsewhere if needed. Of course, whether his bat would make him an asset elsewhere at this point is another question.
It’ll be interesting to see if whichever team signs Martin does so while getting a club option for 2012, as that could be the real value if his recovery from the hip injury sidelines him for part of 2011 or leaves him at less than full strength initially when he does return.
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.