Russ Canzler predictably drew interest from other teams after the Rays designated him for assignment last week and Jordan Bastian of MLB.com reports that Tampa Bay has traded the Triple-A MVP to Cleveland for cash considerations.
For a brief moment early in the offseason Canzler sat atop the Rays’ first base depth chart, but then they signed Carlos Pena to play first base and later dropped Canzler from the 40-man roster to make room for Jeff Keppinger.
He certainly doesn’t project as a star, but Canzler is 25 years old and coming off back-to-back big seasons in the minors, including a .314 batting average, 18 homers, 40 doubles, and a .930 OPS at Triple-A. He could end up getting a chance at first base if the Indians don’t sign a veteran, but more likely profiles as a bench bat or platoon starter.
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.