No decision has been made yet regarding Neftali Feliz’s role, but the Rangers announced today that Alexi Ogando will remain a reliever after trying out for a rotation spot alongside Feliz this spring.
Feliz was a full-time starter for most of his minor-league career, whereas Ogando has started a grand total of three games as a professional, so keeping him in the bullpen makes plenty of sense after he went 4-1 with a 1.30 ERA and 39/16 K/BB ratio in 42 innings as a rookie.
In fact, if the Rangers move Feliz into the rotation I think there’s a pretty good chance Ogando will emerge as their closer at some point this season. Or at least he should. Ogando has electric raw stuff, with a fastball that averaged 96.3 miles per hour last year, and has racked up 11.6 strikeouts per nine innings between the minors and majors.
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.