Brett Wallace was the Astros’ Opening Day first baseman, but after going 1-for-24 with 17 strikeouts he’s headed back to Triple-A.
Wallace is already 26 years old and has logged nearly 1,400 plate appearances at Triple-A, so he’s running out of time to stick in the majors. He’s hit .304 with an .860 OPS at Triple-A, but just .243 with a .682 OPS in 239 games in the majors.
To replace Wallace on the roster the Astros called up Brandon Laird, who was claimed off waivers from the Yankees last September. Laird, like Wallace, is a first baseman/third baseman, and the 25-year-old was off to a great start at Triple-A hitting .353 with a .932 OPS in 12 games.
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.