Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner told reporters today that “there’s been a conversation or two” with Robinson Cano about a long-term contract extension.
Cano is entering the final season of a deal signed in February of 2008 and will make $15 million before hitting the open market as a free agent.
Cano is a Scott Boras client and the agent typically encourages players to avoid extensions once they near free agency, but then again the Yankees rarely let an in-his-prime star leave. That could mean simply out-bidding everyone else for Cano as a free agent, of course.
Adding to the intrigue is that Cano has a chance to become the highest-paid second baseman of all time. In fact, he almost surely will. Right now Ian Kinsler has the highest average annual salary at $15 million and no second baseman has ever gotten $100 million. That says something about how second basemen tend to age and about how teams tend to value infielders who lack the range/arm to play shortstop or the arm to play third base, but regardless of all that Cano will top $100 million with ease.
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.