UPDATE: Done deal. Jordan Bastian of MLB.com reports that Lopez has agreed to a minor-league contract with an invite to spring training, where he’ll compete for a spot on Cleveland’s bench.
Cleveland has had “serious discussions” with free agent Jose Lopez, according to Jon Morosi of FOXSports.com.
Once upon a time Lopez was a promising young infielder, but he’s hit just .233 with a .263 on-base percentage and .348 slugging percentage in 232 games during the past two seasons and was let go for nothing by both the Rockies and Marlins this year.
He’s still just 28 years old and could be useful as a right-handed-hitting platoon partner for left-handed-hitting third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall, but Lopez has fallen a long way since his All-Star days and might be available on a minor-league contract.
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.