Joe Capozzi of the Palm Beach Post reports that the Phillies are “strong players” for free agent third baseman Aramis Ramirez. Meanwhile, Todd Zolecki of MLB.com confirms that the Phils do indeed have interest.
The most likely scenario is that the Phillies envision Ramirez as a fallback option for their lineup if they are unable to retain free agent shortstop Jimmy Rollins. They can’t possibly afford both, right? Buster Olney of ESPN.com wrote earlier this morning that it appears the Phils’ biggest competition for Rollins may come from the Brewers or Cardinals, though his colleague Jerry Crasnick hears that St. Louis doesn’t plan to pursue him even if they are unable to re-sign Albert Pujols.
Placido Polanco is still owed $6.25 million next season while his contract includes a $5.5 million mutual option for 2013 or a $1 million buyout. The 36-year-old is coming off an injury-plagued year which limited him to just 122 games, but if the Phils would likely attempt to flip him if they end up signing Ramirez.
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.