Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes today about how the Yankees dealt with Alex Rodriguez’s last contract. It could be instructive, Goold notes, given how the Cardinals are now poised to give out the biggest contract in the game’s history.
The story is interesting because it touches on something that has always troubled me: if teams can’t give players bonuses for actual performance benchmarks like 100 RBI or 40 home runs, why can the Yankees give A-Rod bonuses for hitting his 660th home run, for example? The answer is that MLB approved the language in A-Rod’s deal specially. It doesn’t say how those clauses are distinguishable from the banned ones, of course. Makes it seem like the Yankees and A-Rod were maybe given special treatment. Which would not surprise me at all.
As for Pujols, I’m not sure how the A-Rod example could come into play. The milestone game has been more or less ruined as a result of steroids souring everyone on Bonds, A-Rod and their friends in the PED-using community. All-Star appearance bonuses and the like aren’t going to cut it because Pujols will get support for that sort of thing even after he’s ceased to be a force.
It seems like the Cardinals will just have to write Pujols giant checks.
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.