The Angels will welcome left-hander Jason Vargas back from the disabled list tomorrow. And not only is Tommy Hanson the odd man out in the starting rotation, Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com reports that he has been demoted to Triple-A Salt Lake.
Such a move would have been unthinkable just a couple of years ago, but Hanson is a shell of the pitcher he was when he first came up with the Braves. With his velocity on a steady decline, the 26-year-old owns a 4.92 ERA in 52 starts since he first started dealing with shoulder issues in 2011. The Angels took a chance by acquiring him from the Braves for Jordan Walden over the winter, but he has an ugly 5.59 ERA over 13 starts this season and a career-low 6.9 K/9.
Hanson is making $3.725 million this season and will be arbitration-eligible for the second time this winter. He’s looking like a non-tender candidate.
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.