UPDATE: According to Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times, the deal is done.
6:50 PM: Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports that the Angels are close to signing Jorge Cantu. While he didn’t specify, it’s same to assume he would get a minor league deal.
Cantu signed with the Padres last winter and began the season in a platoon with Brad Hawpe at first base, but was released in June after batting just .194/.232/.285 with three homers and a .517 OPS over 155 plate appearances. He finished the year with the Rockies’ Triple-A affiliate, hitting .280/.320/.458 with five homers and a .778 OPS in 30 games.
Cantu doesn’t turn 30 until later this month and has shown an ability to hit left-handed pitching in the past, but if all goes as planned for the Angels, he’ll likely open the season in the minors.
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.