In November, Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports reported that the Blue Jays were planning to move Jeremy Jeffress from the bullpen into the starting rotation. Two months later, Passan reports that the Jays are abandoning that idea, preferring to continue using Jeffress as a reliever.
Jeffress, now 26 years old, was drafted by the Brewers 16th overall in the first round of the 2006 draft. The Brewers initially used him as a starter but had him work as a reliever in a limited amount of playing time in 2010. After the 2010 season, the Brewers traded him to the Royals in the Zack Greinke deal. In 2011, the Royals had him make 11 starts between Double-A Northwest Arkansas and Triple-A Omaha, as well as 14 relief appearances. Last November, the Blue Jays bought him from the Royals in a cash transaction.
In 27 1/3 innings as a reliever with Triple-A Buffalo last season, Jeffress posted a 1.65 ERA with 28 strikeouts and 13 walks. In a cup of coffee with the Jays as a September call-up, he did not allow a run in nine innings, striking out 11 and walking three. Clearly, there is still a lot of potential left in his arm.
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.