Just before the July 31 trade deadline the Pirates were said to be close to acquiring Alex Rios from the White Sox, but that deal fizzled and now like most players this month Rios was placed on waivers.
Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reports that the Rangers were awarded the waiver claim on Rios, which means if the White Sox are going to trade him Texas is now the only option. They can also simply pull Rios back and keep him.
Rios makes sense for the Rangers with Lance Berkman still on the disabled list and Nelson Cruz suspended for the remainder of the season. He’s a good defensive right fielder who’s hitting .277 with 12 homers, 26 steals, and a .749 OPS to basically match his career numbers at age 32.
Rios is owed about $4 million for the rest of the this season and is under contract for $12.5 million next year, plus a $13.5 million option or $1 million buyout for 2015. So if the Rangers think he’s worth that money he’d be more than a stretch-run pickup, giving them a longer-term replacement for Cruz in right field.
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.