We’ve heard so much about viral sensation Yoenis Cespedes in the media this month that another talented Cuban outfielder is flying under the radar. However, that doesn’t mean he hasn’t generated plenty of buzz among MLB front-office types.
According to Joe Frisaro of MLB.com, the Marlins, Red Sox, Yankees, Rangers and Cubs are among the teams who have expressed interest in 19-year-old outfielder Jorge Soler. Similar to Cespedes, Soler defected from Cuba and is currently working out for teams in the Dominican Republic. The Marlins and Rangers have already checked him out in person.
Soler isn’t anywhere close to major-league ready like Cespedes, but Frisaro heard from a scout that he boasts serious power potential and is only slightly smaller than Mike Stanton, who stands checks in at 6-foot-5 and 235 pounds. Oh boy. Imagine these two in the very same lineup someday. I can hear the nicknames already.
Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post wrote earlier this week that Soler is expected to receive a contract in the neighborhood of the three-year, $15.5 million deal the Rangers gave Cuban center fielder Leonys Martin earlier this year.
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.