The Mariners acquired Kendrys Morales from the Angels this week in exchange for Jason Vargas, but they aren’t done trying to add bats.
George A. King III of the New York Post reports that the Mariners have “serious interest” in Raul Ibanez. It’s a bit of an odd fit on the surface, as the club already has a bit of a log jam between DH, first base and catcher, but King speculates that Jesus Montero would get the chance to be the regular catcher while Morales would play first base. Justin Smoak could become trade bait under this scenario, as Ibanez would project as the regular DH and occasional outfielder. And don’t forget the M’s also have John Jaso, who is quietly coming off a very nice season.
King hears that the Yankees have kept in touch with Ibanez’s agent, but they are currently focused on trying to add a right-handed hitting outfielder to complement Curtis Granderson, Ichiro Suzuki and Brett Gardner, who all hit from the left side. Scott Hairston remains a possibility, but they are hesitant to give him a multi-year deal.
Ibanez, 40, batted .240/.308/.453 with 19 home runs, 62 RBI and a .761 OPS in 130 games this past season. He was originally drafted by the Mariners back in 1992 and had two different stints with the big club, first from 1996-2000 and then from 2004-2008. The Rangers and Phillies are among the other clubs who have expressed interest.
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.