In case anyone was thinking Arizona’s plan was to let Heath Bell set up for a year and then turn the closer’s role over to him in 2014, the Diamondbacks made it clear Monday that they intend to keep the status quo; they signed J.J. Putz to a one-year, $7 million extension for 2014, the Arizona Republic’s Nick Piecoro reports.
The soon-to-be 36-year-old Putz was already under control for 2013 at $6.5 million after having his club option picked up.
Putz has turned in three straight relatively healthy seasons since missing a chunks of 2008 and ’09 with shoulder problems, though he hasn’t topped 60 innings since 2007. Still very effective, he’s 77-for-86 saving games with a 2.48 ERA in two seasons with the Diamondbacks.
The move means the Diamondbacks’ three top relievers are all signed through 2014. Bell is owed another $21 million, though the Marlins are covering $8 million of that. David Hernandez will make $1.5 million this year and $2 million in 2014.
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.