Richie Phillips, former head of umpires’ union, passes away at age 72

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FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal passes along word that Richie Phillips, who served as the head of the umpires’ union for over 20 years, died last Friday at the age of 72.

Phillips took over as the general counsel and executive director for the Major League Umpires Association in 1978. During his tenure, he led multiple work stoppages for improved salaries and benefits. He was ultimately ousted from his position after recommending that the umpires resign in 1999 as a negotiating tactic. The plan backfired, as MLB accepted the resignations. The umpires ultimately decertified and started a new union without him.

While Phillips’ legacy is complex, there were sweeping changes under his leadership. As Rosenthal details, when Phillips began, rookie umpires earned $17,500 per season while most veterans made $40,000. By the time he was done, umpires earned as much as $282,500 and also received postseason bonuses.

Reds sign outfielders Mason Williams and Rosell Herrera to minor league deals

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The Reds picked up outfielders Mason Williams and Rosell Herrera on minor league deals, MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon reports. Both Williams and Herrera will receive invites to spring training and could compete for backup outfield roles behind Adam Duvall, Billy Hamilton and Scott Schebler.

Williams, 26, completed a three-year track with the Yankees in 2017. He has yet to see a full season of playing time, however, and went 4-for-17 with two stolen bases during a five-game span with the club in 2017. While not a power hitter, his speed and steady contact rate produced a .263/.309/.318 batting line over 437 plate appearances in Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, including two home runs, three triples and 19 stolen bases.

Herrera, 25, has yet to make his big league debut. After seven years in the Rockies’ system, he finally reached Triple-A Albuquerque in 2017 and slashed .278/.351/.394 with three home runs and 20 stolen bases in 363 PA. He looks most comfortable in the left field corner, but has some experience at shortstop and third base and should give the Reds a nice utility option come spring.