As expected the Rangers made a qualifying offer to free agent Josh Hamilton, ensuring they’ll receive a first-round draft pick as compensation if he signs elsewhere as a free agent.
They did not, however, make a qualifying offer to Mike Napoli, so the free agent catcher can walk without the Rangers getting anything in return. He’s also free to re-sign with Texas.
Under the new collective bargaining agreement Type A and Type B free agents are no more, so instead if teams want to get compensation for a departing free agent they must make him a qualifying offer that amounts to a one-year deal for the average salary of the 125 highest-paid players.
For next season that is $13.3 million, which the Rangers deemed too much for Napoli in case he accepted. Hamilton has until next Friday to accept or decline, but he’ll obviously turn it down in search of a much bigger multi-year deal.
We’ll have a full round-up of all the qualifying offer decisions once the 5:00 p.m. ET deadline arrives.
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.