Winter Meetings Evening Roundup: Monday

4a4ctgffWell, the Phillies made a move on the first full day of the Winter Meetings.

They signed Joaquin Benoit to a one-year, $7.5 million contract. The right-handed reliever didn’t pitch well for Seattle to start 2016, but his finish in Toronto was outstanding. In all, Benoit went 2-1 with a 2.81 ERA, 52 strikeouts and 24 walks. Since 2010 (427 innings), he’s 27-17 with a 2.40 ERA, 474 strikeouts, 133 walks and 43 saves.

A traditional setup man, Benoit primarily flashes three pitches (fastball around 94 mph, changeup at 84 mph, and a slider around 87 mph). He suffered from an increased line drive rate last year as his ground ball rate decreased. His walk rate was also up past 4.00 for the first time since 2008, though his K rate remained in the 8-10/9 area. So there’s risk. But the 39-year-old is generally reliable and will make a decent addition to what the Phillies hope is an improved bullpen in 2017.

Meanwhile the rumor mill is in motion.

ODU-BOY: T.R. Sullivan of (as far as I know the T.R. does *not* stand for Texas Rangers) tweeted Monday that the Phillies could be looking to trade Odubel Herrera. But there’s nothing beyond that. Surely if the Phils got an outstanding offer for Herrera, they’d entertain it.

MYSTERY: Who wants Andrew McCutchen? The Nationals have been in rumors. Now there’s a “mystery team!” We all know how “mystery team” began. Chances are the Phillies are not the MT this time around.

ELLISTOMANIA: Jon Heyman tweeted the Phillies are interested in bringing back catcher A.J. Ellis, who they acquired in the Carlos Ruiz trade in August. Ellis, 35, hit .313/.371/.500 with four extra-base hits in 35 plate appearances last year. He’d supply catching depth and veteran presence in the clubhouse.

NOT THIS YEAR …: The Nationals probably aren’t paying Bryce Harper big bucks before he becomes a free agent after 2018. That means the free agent class that year could include Harper, McCutchen, Manny Machado, Clayton Kershaw, Josh Donaldson and more. If the Phillies don’t go nuts in free agency this or next year, you’ll know why.

And finally …

BOOM: Phillies prospect Dylan Cozens won the Joe Bauman award, with a $8,000 prize, for hitting the most home runs in minor league baseball last season. Upon winning the award, he joked that it was more than he made last year. It’s true that many minor leagues make poor wages; that needs to change.

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