Alexi Ogando has moved back and forth from the bullpen to the rotation for Texas during the past two seasons, making 30 starts and 59 relief appearances while thriving in both roles, and now T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com reports that the Rangers “are determined” to use him as a starter in 2013.
Ogando has a 3.49 ERA as a starter and a 2.53 ERA as a reliever, and with both Colby Lewis and Neftali Feliz out following arm surgeries the Rangers’ have a bigger need in the rotation even if they sign a prominent free agent starter. Their own free agent starters, Ryan Dempster, Roy Oswalt, and Scott Feldman, aren’t expected back in Texas.
Ogando has previously said he’d prefer to start and made the All-Star team as a starter in 2011.
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.