It’s been a while since I thought a lot about the World Baseball Classic, so my judgment as to what constitutes important news vis-a-vis the World Baseball Classic is a little off. I’m going to guess, though, that Shin-Soo Choo not playing in it is relatively notable:
Choo’s agent, Scott Boras, said in a recent interview that the 30-year-old instead will focus his efforts on preparing for the 2013 regular season — his final one before becoming a free agent. Choo also may need to adjust to a new team during spring training, since it’s possible the Cleveland Indians will trade him between now and then.
Understandable, but that’s tough stuff for Korea, which lost in the finals in 2009 and made the semis in 2006. The next notable big league player from Korea — Ryu Hyun-Jin — is also a Boras client and will also be skipping the WBC as he adjusts to a new scene.
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.