From the Associated Press, via NBCSports.com, comes word that free agent outfielder Andruw Jones has finalized a one-year, $3.5 million contract with the Rakuten Eagles of Japan’s Pacific League. The deal was agreed to over a week ago but is just now being officially announced by the Japanese team.
Jones batted .197/.294/.408 with 14 home runs and 34 RBI in 94 games this past season for the Yankees. He probably could have found at least one major league team willing to offer him a one-year pact, but he has better earning power over in Japan at this point.
It’s not clear whether the 35-year-old plans to return to Major League Baseball after his stint overseas.
Jones, the winner of 10 straight Gold Gloves from 1998-2007 and a five-time National League All-Star, owns a .254/.337/.486 career batting line.
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.