Picking up Derek Lowe for what’s essentially a one-year, $5 million contract is a smart move for the Indians, as he pitched much better than his ERA suggests this season and if healthy should be a solid third or fourth starter.
Shortly before trading for Lowe the Indians also exercised their $7 million option on Fausto Carmona and together the two moves more or less solidify the rotation as Ubaldo Jimenez, Justin Masterson, Carmona, Lowe, and Josh Tomlin.
That’s potentially a very strong group, although certainly not without significant question marks. It’s also an extremely ground-ball heavy group, as Lowe, Masterson, and Carmona were three of the 10 starters across baseball to induce at least 54 percent grounders this season and Jimenez wasn’t far behind at 47.2 percent.
Tomlin is a fly-ball pitcher, but four-fifths of the rotation would be set up to thrive if the Indians can put a strong infield behind them. Asdrubal Cabrera is locked in at shortstop and sophomores Jason Kipnis and Lonnie Chisenhall will likely be the starters at second base and third base.
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.