Padres general manager Josh Byrnes admitted earlier this month that Dan Haren was among the “eight to 10” starting pitchers the club was very interested in. Bill Center of the San Diego-Union Tribune said in his weekly webchat yesterday that the Padres haven’t wavered on that, though they will likely have to wait to see if he’ll fall in their price range.
The Padres are still interested in Haren. It’s going to be a wait and see game. I’m sure the Padres have a ceiling on what they might spend for Haren. Josh Byrnes and Haren have an excellent working relationship. But this is a money game. Byrnes is playing it close to the vest. Towers and Hoyer would usually tell you how much they had to spend on free agents. Byrnes is much keener on keeping his options secret.
The Padres aren’t a realistic destination for a top starting pitcher like Zack Greinke or Anibal Sanchez, but they could make sense for a pitcher like Haren, who is coming off a down year and carries health questions. Center also notes that the team has interest in Shaun Marcum, who falls under a similar classification. The Padres are moving the fences at PETCO Park for 2013, but it should still be a pretty nice place for pitchers to reestablish their value.
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.