Today the Angels and Erick Aybar made official what was all but finalized last week, announcing a four-year, $35 million contract extension for the switch-hitting shortstop.
Aybar, who’s making $5.075 million this season, gets $1.5 million more than double-play partner Howie Kendrick received in his four-year deal signed in January. Both players would have been free agents after this season.
Aybar’s extension begins next season and will keep him with the Angels through 2016, when he’ll be 32 years old. And because committing to a speedy shortstop into his mid-30s is generally a huge risk the Angels did well to get it done for only four years.
He’s off to a poor start this season and has never been a particularly strong hitter with a .274 batting average, .317 on-base percentage, and .377 slugging percentage in 640 career games, but Aybar captured his first Gold Glove award last season, adds value with his speed as well, and has been worth around $48 million during the previous four seasons according to Fan Graphs.
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.