Padres general manager Jed Hoyer did a radio interview with XX-1090 in San Diego yesterday and had an interesting response to a direct question about whether he’s going to trade closer Heath Bell, saying: “At this point right now, I’m not certain.”
Hoyer also explained that ownership has not told him to trade Bell and noted that “it’s been a pleasure having him” on the Padres, but clearly his response indicates that Bell will be heavily shopped.
Not surprising, certainly, but when a GM does nothing to shoot down the possibility of a star player being traded within the next few weeks it’s safe to bump the odds of it happening up a bit.
In addition to Bell the Padres are also sure to get a ton of interest in setup man Mike Adams, who might actually have more trade value in some scenarios because he makes about half as much money and is under team control for next season, whereas Bell is an impending free agent.
Bell has said previously that he’d consider giving the Padres a discount to remain in San Diego long term, but assuming he’s not willing to take significantly less than he could easily get on the open market I expect him to be traded between now and July 31.
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.