Rangers outfielder Nelson Cruz, currently serving a 50-game suspension for his involvement in the Biogenesis scandal, recently switched representatives, changing from the Levinson brothers to Adam Katz. Sources close to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports have learned that the Levinson brothers went to the Rangers last off-season and suggested a four-year, $56 million deal for their client. The Rangers declined, a decision that seems much more justified now than it did then.
Though Cruz won’t be donning a Rangers uniform for the rest of the regular season, there is a chance the team will add him to their post-season roster, though there is no guarantee. Once the playoffs are over, Cruz will become eligible for free agency. He is expected to draw some interest as one of just a few elite hitters available, but his age, injury history, and involvement with Biogenesis could bring down his price.
Prior to accepting his suspension, Cruz was hitting .269 with 27 home runs and an .841 OPS.
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.