John Lott of the National Post reports that the five highest-paid Blue Jays — Edwin Encarnacion, Jose Bautista, Jose Reyes, R.A. Dickey and Mark Buehrle — were willing to defer part of their 2014 salaries, reportedly close to $3 million apiece, so that the club could sign then-free agent pitcher Ervin Santana.
According to Lott, the deal fell through “at the 11th hour”. Santana wound up signing with the Braves on a one-year, $14.1 million deal on March 12.
Blue Jays third baseman Edwin Encarnacion was one player willing to sacrifice to make the team better:
“If they ask me to do that for anybody — it doesn’t have to be [Santana] — I do it,” Encarnacion said Friday afternoon after acknowledging that he was part of the group. “I want to win. I want to make this team better.”
Outfielder Jose Bautista deferred to GM Alex Anthopoulos.
The Jays have seen their payroll explode over the last two seasons, increasing from $84 million in 2012 to $119 million in 2013, then to over $137 million to start the 2014 season. Jays CEO Paul Beeston said that the club’s owner, Rogers Communications, would have to have been convinced that further increasing the payroll would lead to an increase in revenue.
Santana had a late start to the spring due to his extended free agency, so he was skipped over for his first turn in the Braves’ rotation and is expected to make his season debut on April 9 at home against the Mets.
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.