There was increasing chatter late last night about Roy Oswalt closing in on an agreement with the Cardinals. Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com was even told by a source that the veteran right-hander was headed to St. Louis. Those reports were downplayed early this morning and now we have an official denial from the team’s general manager.
Matthew Leach of MLB.com was told by Cardinals GM John Mozeliak via email this morning that rumors of an agreement are “not true.” Another club official indicated that no roster moves appear to be imminent.
Does this mean it won’t happen? Of course not. We’ve heard multiple times this week that Oswalt wants to pitch closer in proximity to his Mississippi home and would prefer to join either the Cardinals or the Rangers. And it sounds like he means business. According to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com, Oswalt recently turned down a one-year, $10 million contract from the Tigers. It’s highly unlikely he’ll get that much guaranteed cash from anyone else.
UPDATE: Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reports that while the Rangers are interested in Oswalt, they have not made him an offer.
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.