John Gibbons

The Blue Jays give John Gibbons a lame duck-proof contract

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Walter Alston managed the Dodgers on one-year deals from 1954 through 1976 and no one ever really got bent-out-of-shape about him being a “lame duck” manager. These days, however, any manager who is only under contract for the current calendar year are supposed to be all antsy and in the cross-hairs and their contractual status is supposed to create all kinds of problems and distractions.

I’ll leave it to others to decide if that’s true — I’m inclined to believe it’s only an issue insofar as the lame duck manager’s insecurity allows it to be — but in the meantime, the Blue Jays and John Gibbons have devised a system so that’s never an issue: automatically vesting options that keep Gibbons on what amount to rolling two-year deals:

The way it works is that as long as the Blue Jays don’t fire him prior to the following Jan. 1, the option becomes guaranteed with another option added to the back end. For example, if Gibbons makes it to 2014, his 2015 option vests with another option added for 2016.

Which also means that if the Jays simply get fed up with him they are unavoidably going to have to pay Gibbons’ salary for at least one season while he hunts, fishes and watches TV or whatever. But the Jays apparently feel that risk is preferable to the risk of having Gibbons and the media and everyone wondering if he’ll get a contract extension to cover the following year.

(thanks to Brad P. for the heads up)

Report: Phillies close to signing Joaquin Benoit

ANAHEIM, CA - SEPTEMBER 15:  Joaquin Benoit #53 of the Toronto Blue Jays pitches during the seventh inning of a game against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim  at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on September 15, 2016 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images
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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.

Report: The new collective bargaining agreement reduces players’ meal money

ADVANCE FOR WEEKEND EDITIONS, JAN. 18-19 - This Jan. 15, 2014 photo showing new baseball union head Tony Clark during an interview at the organization's headquarters, in New York. Clark has big shoes to fill _ and not just as Michael Weiner's replacement as head of the baseball players' union. Moving from Arizona to New Jersey, the former big league All-Star also needed to find size 15 snowshoes.  (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
AP Photo/Richard Drew
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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.