According to Bill Chastian of MLB.com, the Rays officially released Matt Bush yesterday after he spent the entire season on the restricted list following his DUI hit-and-run arrest in March.
Bush is accused of hitting a 72-year-old motorcyclist with a vehicle while under the influence and fleeing the scene of an accident. The 26-year-old remains in a Charlotte County jail, though the state of Florida has offered him a plea deal.
Bush was selected by the Padres with the No. 1 overall pick of the 2004 First-Year Player draft, but he his career has been marred by personal and legal troubles. He was arrested for a fight at a nightclub in Arizona before he even played a game. After struggling as a shortstop, the Padres moved him to the mound, but he required Tommy John surgery in 2008. He had a pair of alcohol-related incidents in 2009, during which he was acquired by the Blue Jays and then released. The Rays were hopeful that he had worked through his off-field troubles and was ready to salvage his career as a pitcher, but he’s all out of chances.
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.