With the draft less than six hours away the Astros’ choice with the No. 1 overall pick remains a mystery.
Jim Callis of Baseball America predicts they’ll take Oklahoma right-hander Jonathan Gray, but Keith Law of ESPN.com has them taking Stanford right-hander Mark Appel in his final mock draft. Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com has Houston selecting Gray, but also adds that they might go with North Carolina third baseman Colin Moran.
Gray, Appel, and San Diego third baseman Kris Bryant are the consensus top three talents in the draft, which is rare in that they’re all college players. Kohl Stewart is considered the top high school talent and the right-hander from Texas seems like a lock to go to the Twins at No. 4, assuming the top three guys are all off the board.
We’ll have pick-by-pick analysis of the first round tonight, so check back later.
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.