When the Mariners announced after the season that they were bringing in the fences at Safeco, the obvious reaction was that they were trying to help their chances of luring a power hitter this winter, and they have been connected to Justin Upton in trade talks and Josh Hamilton, Mike Napoli and Adam LaRoche in free agency. However, according to CBSSports.com’s Jon Heyman, it’s not all about power with the Mariners: they’re interested in Michael Bourn and are currently meeting with his agent, Scott Boras.
With B.J. Upton, Angel Pagan and Denard Span all filling vacancies, the market for center fielders would seem to be dwindling some, so it’d be great news for Bourn if the Mariners stayed involved. They might be his best chance of matching the five-year, $75.25 million deal that B.J. Upton got from the Braves.
If the Mariners do get Bourn, they’d likely seek to trade Franklin Gutierrez, even though he’d bring little in return after all of his injuries. He’d make the team very lefty heavy at the top of the order. The Mariners also have left-handed hitters Dustin Ackley, Kyle Seager, John Jaso and Michael Saunders as likely starters, and Ackley, Seager and Jaso would likely all occupy top-four spots in the lineup if the season started today.
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.