Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that the Athletics and first baseman Daric Barton have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year, $1.1 million contract. He could earn an additional $250,000 with incentives.
Barton, 27, earned the same $1.1 million this past season while batting just .204/.338/.292 with one home run and a .630 OPS in 136 plate appearances at the major league level. He really struggled with the bat before being demoted to the minors in early June and was used mostly as a defensive replacement when he returned as a September call-up. Shoulder problems have prevented him from replicating the success he had back in 2010.
As Slusser notes, Barton’s deal is not guaranteed, so the A’s could give him the boot during spring training and only be responsible for a portion of the contract. Brandon Moss and Chris Carter are still around as in-house options for first base, so Barton has his work cut out for him in order to secure a roster spot.
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.