FOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal reports that the Orioles are in the process of finalizing a deal that would net them Bud Norris from Houston in return for outfielder L.J. Hoes and a second player. The Baltimore Sun’s Dan Connolly says the second player is left-hander Josh Hader. The Astros will also get a competitive balance pick from the Orioles that should come in around 40th overall in next year’s draft.
Rosenthal says the Orioles beat out the Diamondbacks for Norris’s services.
Norris figures to bump Jason Hammel from a Baltimore rotation that also includes Miguel Gonzalez, Chris Tillman, Wei-Yin Chen and Scott Feldman. Norris is 6-9 with a 3.93 ERA and a 90/43 K/BB ratio in 126 innings for the Astros this season. He’s making $3 million this year in his first year of arbitration and he’s under control through 2016.
Hoes, 23, was just called up by the Orioles this week after hitting .304/.406/.403 with three homers and seven steals in 365 at-bats for Triple-A Norfolk. The former second baseman doesn’t have the power one wants from a corner outfielder, but he might be a useful part-timer with his on-base skills. The Astros could stick him right on the major league roster after sending Justin Maxwell to Kansas City earlier this afternoon.
Hader, 19, was 3-6 with a 2.65 ERA and a 79/42 K/BB ratio in 85 innings for low Single-A Delmarva this season. He was a 19th-round pick last year, and MLB.com rated him as the Orioles’ No. 5 prospect at midseason.
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.