The Nationals have the option of moving Michael Morse over to first base following the acquisition of Denard Span this week, but manager Davey Johnson really wants the club to re-sign Adam LaRoche.
Per Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post, Johnson hosted a charity event last night to benefit Lighthouse Central Florida, a non-profit organization offering services to people affected by vision loss and blindness. Many big names were in attendance for the event, including the likes of Hall of Famer Brooks Robinson and Larry The Cable Guy (?), but Johnson was especially interested to see LaRoche, who made the trip from Kansas. The Nats’ skipper has kept in touch with LaRoche during the offseason, even buying some beef from his cattle ranch, and told him to “bring his pen” when he came to the charity event last night.
“I wanted him here to sign the damn contract,” Johnson said. “I’m eating his beef, and I wanted to put an order in for next year, too. After we win the World Series.”
Can we make “eating his beef” into a thing? It should really be a thing.
LaRoche and general manager Mike Rizzo declined to comment on any specifics regarding negotiations, but Johnson yelled into the microphone for them to “GET TOGETHER” when speaking on stage. So far the Nationals have been unwilling to offer more than a two-year deal while the Red Sox, Rangers and Orioles have been mentioned as possible alternatives for LaRoche.
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.