A.J. Burnett

The Burnett trade should have been voided? What?

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The Yankees traded A.J. Burnett to the Pirates. They’re paying $20 million of his contract. The Pirates are getting a pitcher who, despite his problems, could be pretty good in the NL Central and definitely improves their staff. They’re only paying $6.5 million a year for him and didn’t have to give up much talent at all to get him.

This is a win-win deal, right?  And even if it’s not totally win-win, it’s not like anyone is taking advantage of anyone, right?

Well, that’s not what Richard Griffin of the Toronto Star says. He thinks the trade is an atrocity of some kind that should have be voided by Bud Selig in the best interests of baseball.  Allow him to explain:

It’s great for the Pirates because they are not a real contender and now have a short-term starting ace who won’t get attached and be looking for something awkward — like, say, an extension. It’s great for the Yankees because now they can add in other areas and win it all again.

Wait. That makes it sound like a fine deal, Mr. Griffin. Try again. Why is this so awful?

With A.J. coming off an 18-win, 231 strikeout season, the Yanks outbid all comers. They offered an outrageous five years and $88.5 million for a guy who was barely .500 and has always required the presence of better pitchers on his own staff to be most effective.

The commissioner’s office should consider how that bad Burnett contract impacted other similar free agents in the winter of 2008-09 and the next off-season and how it had a negative trickle down effect that hurt small market teams like Pittsburgh.

I dunno, I’m lost. You go read it. The best I can gather is that Griffin didn’t like the original contract the Yankees handed out to Burnett so … the trade three years later should be voided? Am I missing something here?

This is a perfectly acceptable baseball move. Each team is trying to get better, the Pirates by moderate addition, the Yankees by subtraction.  In what possible way does this deal make anyone uncomfortable?

Report: Phillies close to signing Joaquin Benoit

ANAHEIM, CA - SEPTEMBER 15:  Joaquin Benoit #53 of the Toronto Blue Jays pitches during the seventh inning of a game against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim  at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on September 15, 2016 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images
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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.

Report: The new collective bargaining agreement reduces players’ meal money

ADVANCE FOR WEEKEND EDITIONS, JAN. 18-19 - This Jan. 15, 2014 photo showing new baseball union head Tony Clark during an interview at the organization's headquarters, in New York. Clark has big shoes to fill _ and not just as Michael Weiner's replacement as head of the baseball players' union. Moving from Arizona to New Jersey, the former big league All-Star also needed to find size 15 snowshoes.  (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
AP Photo/Richard Drew
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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.