Wallace Matthews of ESPN New York reports that the Yankees have signed veteran outfielder Juan Rivera to a minor-league deal, bringing him in as a potential right-handed bench bat.
Last offseason Rivera got $4 million in guaranteed money from the Dodgers, who ended up buying out his 2013 option for $500,000 after he hit just .244 with nine homers and a .661 OPS in 109 games.
Once upon a time Rivera was a decent regular who thrived against left-handed pitching, but he’s always been sub par defensively and has never fared particularly well versus right-handers. And in the past three seasons he hit just .270 with a .763 OPS against lefties, so at age 34 it’s not even clear he’s a good part-time option considering the Yankees also have Matt Diaz and Russ Canzler to fill the same role.
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.