Detroit Tigers v New York Yankees

Rafael Soriano on track to rejoin Yankees’ bullpen next week

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Rafael Soriano has been out since mid-May with an elbow injury, but yesterday manager Joe Girardi told Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com that he’ll “probably” be cleared to come off the disabled list by Wednesday or Thursday of next week.

Soriano had a 5.40 ERA in 16 appearances before the injury, but turned in five straight scoreless outings before being shut down and Girardi has already indicated that he’ll resume serving as the Yankees’ primary eighth-inning setup man once healthy.

Some of that has to do with Joba Chamberlain being out for the season following Tommy John elbow surgery, but David Robertson made the All-Star team with a dominant first half and has a 3.37 ERA with 231 strikeouts in 174 innings, so he’d clearly be capable of remaining in the eighth-inning role while Soriano tries to get on track.

Also a potential factor: Soriano earning $10 million this season and the Yankees owing him another $25 million for the next two years.

Before that can even be an issue Soriano must first avoid a setback while working on consecutive days, which he’ll attempt Sunday and Monday in the minors.

Report: Phillies close to signing Joaquin Benoit

ANAHEIM, CA - SEPTEMBER 15:  Joaquin Benoit #53 of the Toronto Blue Jays pitches during the seventh inning of a game against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim  at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on September 15, 2016 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images
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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.

Report: The new collective bargaining agreement reduces players’ meal money

ADVANCE FOR WEEKEND EDITIONS, JAN. 18-19 - This Jan. 15, 2014 photo showing new baseball union head Tony Clark during an interview at the organization's headquarters, in New York. Clark has big shoes to fill _ and not just as Michael Weiner's replacement as head of the baseball players' union. Moving from Arizona to New Jersey, the former big league All-Star also needed to find size 15 snowshoes.  (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
AP Photo/Richard Drew
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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.