Yasiel Puig Getty

John Maffei explains why he left Yasiel Puig off his NL ROY ballot

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It’s that time of year again. Every once in a while, we’ll see a member of the BBWAA cast a vote for a hometown player for an award while a more deserving player is snubbed. It happened tonight with the National League Rookie of the Year Award, as John Maffei of the San Diego Union-Tribune was the only voter to leave Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig off his ballot.

Maffei gave a first-place vote to Marlins right-hander Jose Fernandez, who went on to win the award. He then voted Cardinals right-hander Shelby Miller second, citing his performance in a pennant race. Per Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times, here’s Maffei’s logic behind the decision to go with Padres second baseman Jeff Gyorko over Puig for third place:

Maffei said he realized Puig would finish strongly in the voting. He said his third-place vote was not about rejecting Puig but about rewarding Gyorko.

“A second baseman hit 23 home runs and played great defense,” Maffei said. “Maybe Puig’s antics were in the back of my mind, but I really think the guy [Gyorko] deserved a third-place vote. I just felt he deserved it, not that Puig didn’t.”

Gyorko got two votes for third place, the other from Jack Magruder of Fox Sports Arizona.

You have to love the line about Puig’s “antics.” “Maybe” it was a factor? Say no more.

I can’t say I agree with Maffei’s logic, but at least he isn’t hiding from criticism. Fortunately, his vote didn’t have a significant impact on the outcome.

Report: Phillies close to signing Joaquin Benoit

ANAHEIM, CA - SEPTEMBER 15:  Joaquin Benoit #53 of the Toronto Blue Jays pitches during the seventh inning of a game against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim  at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on September 15, 2016 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images
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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.

Report: The new collective bargaining agreement reduces players’ meal money

ADVANCE FOR WEEKEND EDITIONS, JAN. 18-19 - This Jan. 15, 2014 photo showing new baseball union head Tony Clark during an interview at the organization's headquarters, in New York. Clark has big shoes to fill _ and not just as Michael Weiner's replacement as head of the baseball players' union. Moving from Arizona to New Jersey, the former big league All-Star also needed to find size 15 snowshoes.  (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
AP Photo/Richard Drew
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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.