When last we checked in on Jose Valverde the 35-year-old former closer was dominating Canadian teenagers, but Jason Beck of MLB.com has an update.
Beck reports that Valverde is now done with extended spring training and is expected to move up to Single-A this weekend. And if that goes well he’d likely head to Triple-A at some point next week, putting him in position to rejoin the Tigers’ bullpen at any time.
After failing to generate any big-league offers all offseason Valverde came back to the Tigers on a minor-league contract two weeks ago. For now manager Jim Leyland has decided on Joaquin Benoit as the primary closer, but if Valverde does rejoin the bullpen it’s hard to imagine him not getting a chance to reclaim ninth-inning duties.
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.