One of the few Red Sox who failed to wilt in September, Marco Scutaro was rewarded Sunday when his $6 million option for 2012 was picked up by the club.
The move is the first made by Ben Cherington since he replaced Theo Epstein as Boston’s GM.
Scutaro hit .387/.438/.581 with 21 RBI in 93 at-bats during the final month of the season and finished with an overall line of .299/.358/.423 in his second year in Boston. He was pushed into a part-time role for a spell by Jed Lowrie’s hot start and he also missed a month with a strained oblique, but he had the seventh highest OPS among the 23 players to start appear in at least 100 games at shortstop last season.
Scutaro is 36 now and probably shouldn’t be counted on to start 130 games in 2012, but the Red Sox will be content to pair him with Lowrie at shortstop. In the unlikely event that they make a run at Jose Reyes, Scutaro would be tradeable at his modest salary.
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.