The Atlanta Braves just announced that they have picked up the club option on Eric Hinske and declined the option on Nate McLouth.
This is not surprising. McLouth’s 2012 option price was $10.65 million and, in case you’ve been living under a rock, you know that McLouth is not a $10 million player. Heck, he may not be a $10 player right now. He had a 2011 line of .228/.344/.333 in 81 games. And that was an improvement over 2010. If the Braves are going to pay real money to try and retain a center fielder, it will be money spent on Michael Bourn, not McLouth.
As for Hinske, his option was for $1.5 million. He still represents some left handed pop off the bench and, given that the Braves never seem to sign a decent complement of backup outfielders or corner guys, he’s useful enough in that role.
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.