When the Red Sox designated Daniel Bard for assignment it seemed likely that a non-contending team with some 40-man roster space to spare would take a flier on the once-dominant reliever and sure enough the Cubs claimed him off waivers.
There’s no overstating how lost Bard has been for the past two seasons and this year he made just one appearance for the Red Sox while also walking 27 batters in 15 innings in the minors. On the other hand, he’s still just 28 years old and was an excellent setup man as recently as 2011, so the Cubs don’t have much to lose by picking him up for nothing and seeing if there’s any sign of a turnaround.
And of course it didn’t hurt that Cubs president Theo Epstein is plenty familiar with the good version of Bard from their time in Boston.
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.