Since earning a promotion to the big leagues in June 2011, Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas has compiled a meager .606 OPS against left-handed pitching. In 2013, his third season in the Majors, he finished with a .546 OPS against southpaws. So when the Royals acquired infielder Danny Valencia — author of a career .879 OPS against lefties — from the Orioles in exchange for outfielder David Lough several weeks ago, there were some that thought Moustakas and Valencia would work well as platoon partners.
As Pete Grathoff of the Kansas City Star writes, the Royals still view Moustakas as a full-time starter at third base.
“Mike Moustakas is our everyday third baseman,” Royals general manager Dayton Moore said. “It just gives us more depth, and our job as a baseball operations staff is that Ned (Yost) and the coaching staff have as much depth as possible and are in a position to match up as they see fit on any given night.”
Moustakas is just 25 years old and isn’t eligible for free agency until after the 2017 season, so the Royals certainly have some incentive to let Moustakas continue to learn and grow as a player. At the same time, they are also trying to compete in 2014 to end a 28-year playoff drought, currently the longest drought among all 30 Major League teams. They finished at 86-76 last season, their first season above .500 since 2003, but still finished in third place, seven games out of first. Squeezing out small advantages where possible could mean the difference between playing meaningful baseball in October or scheduling a golf outing.
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.