Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post hears that the Yankees “have shown some interest” in picking up Rick Ankiel.
Ankiel was designated for assignment by the Nationals this week after batting just .228/.282/.411 with five home runs and a .694 OPS through 171 plate appearances. Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com wrote at the time that the Yankees “don’t seem interested” in Ankiel, but it’s possible things have changed over the past couple of days.
Brett Gardner will have right elbow surgery next week and is expected to miss the rest of the season. Meanwhile, Nick Swisher left last night’s game against the Athletics with a mild left hip flexor strain and is considered day-to-day. Raul Ibanez and Andruw Jones have been surprisingly productive in left field and Dewayne Wise has played well as an extra outfielder, but the Yankees figure to be on the lookout for alternatives in the coming days and weeks.
Ankiel, 33, can play all three outfield positions and has some pop from the left side, so he figures to latch on somewhere even if the Yankees pass.
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.