Melvin Roman, the Puerto Rico-based agent for Korean third baseman Jeong Choi, told Jon Heyman of CBS Sports on Sunday that his client is seriously considering leaving the KBO’s SK Wyverns after the 2014 season. “He has a strong desire to come and play in the major leagues,” Roman said.
Choi, who has been compared to Mets star David Wright for his good looks and well-rounded skillset, hit 28 home runs with a .429 on-base percentage and .551 slugging percentage in 2013 for SK Wyverns.
The 27-year-old has managed an OPS over .900 in four straight Korean Baseball Organization seasons.
Heyman suspects that the Diamondbacks, White Sox, and Red Sox could all be in the market for a big-time third baseman next winter — along with the Padres and Giants. Pablo Sandoval, Chase Headley, and Aramis Ramirez are among the current major league third basemen headed for the free agent market.
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.