Derek Dietrich has been the Marlins’ starting second baseman since being called up from the minors in the middle of last season and he’s actually hit well this year with a .773 OPS in 41 games, but he’s been demoted back to Triple-A because the team thinks his defense is terrible.
Dietrich has seven errors, which is tied for the MLB lead among second basemen, and Manny Navarro of the Miami Herald writes that he “has had plenty of defensive struggles” even beyond the error total. Ultimate Zone Rating agrees, pegging Dietrich as 9.0 runs below average in 800 career innings at the position.
But still: 24-year-old middle infielders with a .773 OPS don’t grow on trees and Dietrich’s defensive numbers aren’t considerably worse than plenty of other regulars with good bats. He’s a former Rays second-round draft pick who was acquired by the Marlins in exchange for Yunel Escobar and certainly seems good enough to remain in their long-term plans.
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.