Last week the Phillies signed Jack Cust to a minor-league contract as a potential left-handed bench bat, but Bob Brookover of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports that they’re still looking to add a lefty swinging veteran for the stretch run.
Jim Thome would be the most obvious solution, as he played for the Phillies from 2003 to 2005 and remains very productive in a part-time role for the Twins at age 41, with Minnesota perhaps open to trading the future Hall of Famer after he reached 600 homers Monday.
Another, similar option is Jason Giambi, who said last month that he’d be interested in re-signing with the Rockies for next season even if they traded him this year. Giambi has hit very well in a limited role behind Todd Helton.
They would both represent significant upgrades over Ross Gload and Brian Schneider while giving manager Charlie Manuel a late-inning weapon in the playoffs. Of course, Brookover speculates that other NL teams would put claims in on Thome or Giambi just to block the Phillies from potentially dealing for them, in which case calling up Cust or recalling Dominic Brown might be their best option.
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.