With B.J. Upton off the market, things are starting to heat up with free agent outfielder Angel Pagan. Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com has the scoop:
The Philadelphia Phillies, after losing the B.J. Upton sweepstakes to the Atlanta Braves, are pushing for another free-agent center fielder, according to major-league sources.
Two teams have made four-year offers to Pagan, sources say. Those teams are believed to be the Phillies and Pagan’s previous club, the World Series champion San Francisco Giants.
Rosenthal hears that the Phillies made a five-year, $55 million offer to Upton before he signed with the Braves for five years and $75.25 million and the sense is that Michael Bourn is going to fetch more. While four years for Pagan is a lot, signing him as opposed to Bourn would give the Phillies some flexibility to upgrade at third base and in the bullpen.
The Giants are clearly interested in bringing Pagan back, but it would be interesting to see what they do if the bidding gets out of hand. Bourn and Josh Hamilton are going to be very pricey, so Brian Sabean might have to get creative here. Hey, did you guys hear that Andres Torres is a free agent?
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.