From Andy Martino, the Mets beat writer at the New York Daily News:
A new possibility for shortstop has emerged for the Mets, as the team plans to send scouts to a showcase this weekend for Cuban defector Erisbel Arruebarruena, according to sources.
The 23-year-old Arruebarruena, who has drawn comparisons to Detroit’s Jose Iglesias, was the starting shortstop for Cuba’s World Baseball Classic team this year. Baseball America’s Ben Badler was first to report his defection last month, and intention to play in the United States. The publication ranked Arruebarruena as the no. 10 prospect in the tournament not signed to a major league team.
The showcase will take place at the Yankees’ facility in the Dominican Republic, so they can be counted as another team with legitimate interest. Arruebarruena is known more for his defensive capabilities than his bat and will likely have to spend some time in the minor leagues.
The 6-foot, 198-pounder debuted in Cuba’s Serie Nacional at age 16. He bats right and throws right.
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.