The free agent market opened for business less than a week ago, so Yankees general manager Brian Cashman is just getting started in his search for a starting pitcher.
He got in touch with the agent for C.J. Wilson and Roy Oswalt over the weekend and contacted Mark Buehrle’s agent Jeff Berry earlier today. Buster Olney of ESPN.com writes Cashman is just doing his “due diligence” as he gets his lay of the free agent landscape, but he also mentions that it’s “highly unlikely” the Yankees will make a serious run at Buehrle.
Interesting. This is the Yankees we’re talking about, so it’s impossible to rule them out on any free agent, but it sure doesn’t sound like Buehrle will be hurting for offers this winter. The veteran left-hander met with the Marlins today and his agent hinted last week that he could prefer pitching in the National League. While they may get priced out due to the competition in a weak market for free agent starters, Chuck Garfien of CSNChicago.com notes that the White Sox remain in the mix, as well.
Buehrle, who turns 33 in March, went 13-9 with a 3.59 ERA over 31 starts this season. He has 11 straight seasons of at least 200 innings pitched.
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.