28 teams reportedly attended a showcase for Cuban free agent Rusney Castillo late last month and now Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald reports that he’s “moving quickly” toward a decision on where to sign.
George A. King III of the New Yost Post hears from several teams with interest in Castillo that the Phillies are viewed as the favorite. However, there’s no consensus on a front-runner and Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com was told by industry sources that they are not considered a top candidate to sign him. The 27-year-old has had a private workout with Philadelphia, as well as the Yankees, Red Sox, Tigers, and Cubs.
Listed at 5-foot-9 and 185 pounds, Castillo is known for his plus-speed. Most view him as an outfielder, but he also worked out at shortstop during his recent showcase. While he’s not expected to have the upside of Yasiel Puig, there’s speculation that he could receive a contract that rivals the seven-year, $42 million deal that Puig signed with the Dodgers after coming over from Cuba.
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.