The Nationals are on the lookout for a left-handed reliever and Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post reports that former Braves reliever Eric O’Flaherty is their latest target.
O’Flaherty required Tommy John surgery on his left elbow this May and is expected to miss at least the first month of the 2014 season, but that hasn’t stopped six teams from expressing interest. The 28-year-old owns a fantastic 1.99 ERA dating back to 2009 and was in line for a big contract in free agency prior to surgery, so he could be an excellent buy-low opportunity. The thought is that he’ll sign a one-year deal in hopes of testing the market again next winter.
Kiglore hears that the Nationals’ search for a left-handed reliever has also led them to discussions with Boone Logan, Scott Downs, J.P. Howell and Oliver Perez.
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.