After eight seasons in Philadelphia catcher Carlos Ruiz is on the verge of free agency and general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. made it clear that the Phillies want to re-sign him, telling Todd Zolecki of MLB.com:
We’d like to bring him back. He knows we’d like to bring him back. We’ll see what happens. I’d like to have as much balance [in the lineup] as we can, we haven’t been very good against left-handers. It’s well documented.
New manager Ryne Sandberg also echoed those sentiments.
Ruiz missed the first 25 games of the season while serving a PED suspension and then struggled initially, but he’s been very good since August 1, hitting .299 with an .815 OPS in 42 games to approximate his 2010-2012 production of an .842 OPS. Age at 34 he seems unlikely to get any long-term offers on the open market, so Ruiz returning to Philadelphia on, say, a two-year could make sense for both sides.
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.