It took Adam LaRoche a couple months to cave in and accept the Nationals’ two-year offer, but now that he’s returning to Washington expect Michael Morse to be on the way out.
Morse has somewhat quietly been one of the better right-handed hitters in baseball since becoming a regular in 2010, but there’s nowhere for him to play with LaRoche at first base and Bryce Harper and Jayson Werth flanking Denard Span in the outfield.
Morse batted .291 with 18 homers and a .791 OPS in 102 games last season and has hit .296 with 64 homers and an .861 OPS in 346 games since 2010. During that three-year span his OPS ranks 15th among all right-handed hitters with 1,000-plus plate appearances, sandwiched between Andrew McCutchen and Corey Hart.
However, his trade value could be somewhat limited because Morse will be a free agent next offseason and gives back a ton of runs defensively in the outfield. But for a team in need of some right-handed pop in the middle of the lineup–and perhaps willing to play him at first base or designated hitter–Morse would make a lot of sense.
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.