General manager Brian Cashman said yesterday that the Yankees “are taking to Raul Ibanez” about returning to New York.
Ibanez came up huge in the postseason, but had a modest regular season performance at age 40, hitting .240 with 19 homers and a .761 OPS in a platoon role that shielded him from tough left-handed pitchers.
Ibanez hasn’t topped an .800 OPS since 2009, but if the Yankees are looking to pinch pennies he’ll certainly be cheap to re-sign.
That would also mean that the Yankees’ four outfielders and designated hitters–Ibanez, Curtis Granderson, Ichiro Suzuki, Brett Gardner–were all left-handed hitters, so not surprisingly George King of the New York Post speculates that Cashman is pursuing various right-handed-hitting outfielders to pair with them.
Earlier this week the Yankees were linked to Vernon Wells of the Angels and I supposed someone can technically be a right-handed hitter even if they’ve ceased hitting years ago.
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.