Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish reports that the Rangers are “making progress” on a deal with free agent right-hander Jerome Williams. Talks have “intensified” since left-hander Derek Holland suffered a left knee injury which will likely keep him sidelined until midseason.
Williams was non-tendered by the Angels in December after posting a 4.57 ERA and 107/55 K/BB ratio over 169 1/3 innings over 25 starts and 12 relief appearances last season. The 32-year-old had a 4.58 ERA in 15 starts and 17 relief appearances in 2012.
Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said yesterday the Holland injury won’t put any pressure on the club to make a move for a “big ticket” starting pitcher, but they are obviously looking for some insurance. As of now, Alexi Ogando, Colby Lewis, Robbie Ross, Nick Tepesch, and Tanner Scheppers are all in the mix for the final two spots in the rotation.
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.