Mariano Rivera is coming back for another season.
We heard last week that Rivera was “having second thoughts” about returning, but George A. King III of the New York Post reports that the all-time saves leader got in touch with Yankees general manager Brian Cashman yesterday to let him know that he plans to pitch in 2013.
“Rivera contacted us and wants to play,” Cashman told The Post.
Rivera was resolute in his intention to return for his 19th major league season after he tore the ACL in his right knee at Kauffman Stadium in May, but he was less sure about the idea in recent weeks. Understandable for someone who is set to turn 43 later this month and is coming off a major surgery. Rivera is a free agent, so the two sides will have to come to terms on a new contract. He made $15 million this year. The Yankees made a one-year, $13.3 million qualifying offer to Rafael Soriano yesterday, but the smart money is on him declining and looking for a closer job elsewhere.
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.