Vladimir Guerrero’s comeback is officially underway, as the former MVP reported to the Blue Jays’ minor-league complex in Florida yesterday after signing a minor-league contract last week.
When asked how Guerrero fits into the Blue Jays’ plans general manager Alex Anthopoulos made it very clear that they view the 37-year-old as a low-cost flier who must play his way back to the majors, saying: “I have no idea how he’s going to perform. There’s no point in even spending time on that because I don’t even know what we have.”
John Farrell was slightly more optimistic about Guerrero eventually joining Toronto’s lineup, but the manager also left open the possibility that the Blue Jays will decide he’s not worth adding.
For now he’ll work out and try to get into game shape, with Gregor Chisholm of MLB.com reporting that there’s no immediate timetable for his minor-league debut and Guerrero definitely won’t be an option for a call-up until June.
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.