July 2 doesn’t get as much attention as July 31’s non-waiver trade deadline, but it’s still a pretty significant date in the baseball world. Today marks the first day of the international signing period. If you take a look at the signings today and over the next couple of weeks and months, you’ll notice that the great majority of these players are 16 years old and come from Latin America.
The Rangers have already grabbed the headlines this morning, signing Dominican outfielder Nomar Mazara to a bonus worth more than $5 million, according to Enrique Rojas of ESPNDeportes.com. The previous record for a signing bonus during the international signing period was the $4.25 million the Athletics gave to Dominican right-hander Michael Ynoa in 2008.
Rojas writes that the 16-year-old Mazara “is a 6-foot-5 outfielder who hits for power from the left side of the plate.” Ben Badler of Baseball America ranked the top 40 expected signing bonuses yesterday and Mazara checked in at 10th on the list. Dominican outfielder Elier Hernandez, who was ranked first on the list, has signed with the Royals for $3.05 million.
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.