Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports reports that the Phillies have signed Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez, the highly-touted 26-year-old right-hander from Cuba, to a six-year contract worth more than $50 million.
Gonzalez drew interest from almost every major league team after being cleared for employment on July 15 by the United States government. The bidding came down to the Red Sox and Phillies in the end, according to Passan’s sources, and the Philly front office simply made the highest offer.
It’s a seemingly desperate move for a club that probably needs to be rebuilding and not handing out big contracts to unproven mid-20s free agents, but the Phillies generate a ton of cash and will be signing a massive new television contract soon so maybe it’s not all that risky. If Gonzalez pans out, the Phillies will have another starting pitcher to build around. If he’s no good, the move won’t crush the organization.
The scouting report for Gonzalez, via Passan:
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.