One side effect of Anthony Rizzo’s emergence for the Cubs is that Bryan LaHair has fallen completely out of the team’s plans just months after being named an All-Star.
LaHair was a great story in the first half, finally getting his big chance at age 29 after a decade in the minors and hitting .286 with 14 homers and an .883 OPS to represent the Cubs in the All-Star game.
However, he’d already begun slumping by then and after initially trying LaHair in the outfield once Rizzo arrived the Cubs have basically given him a permanent spot on the bench. LaHair has a grand total of 101 plate appearances in the second half and has hit just .187. Dating back even further, since hitting .384 with a 1.243 OPS through May 10 he’s hit just .212 with a .612 OPS in 88 games.
When asked yesterday about LaHair’s status, manager Dale Sveum said:
I think for his sake he needs to go play winter ball again and get those at-bats he missed out on and be ready for spring training just like he was this year. … Yeah, that [securing a big role with the Cubs will be difficult] goes unsaid really. Rizzo is healthy and playing time will be tough to find.
Obviously the Cubs will try to get something for LaHair this offseason, but much like we saw with Evan Meek and the Pirates yesterday the “former All-Star” label isn’t exactly guaranteed to create trade interest when the selection was iffy in the first place.
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.