Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe tackles the subject of arbitration hearings in his latest column, pointing out that teams are far more willing to settle on salaries with their players than they used to be. After speaking to Astros president Tal Smith, who says hearings don't involve as much "mud-slinging" as you'd think, Cafardo wonders why more clubs aren't inclined to fight to keep their payroll down. Here are the rest of his notes:
- James Loney won't be traded for now, but the Nationals made a "good push" for him earlier this winter, before they signed Adam LaRoche.
- According to one of Cafardo's Red Sox sources, Jonathan Papelbon will be available throughout the season, regardless of where the Sox are in the standings.
- Cafardo indicates that before Carl Pavano agreed to a two-year deal with the Twins, the Yankees offered the right-hander a one-year pact worth $7MM.
- Ron Washington offers the latest on the Rangers' plan for Neftali Feliz, who could get a chance to start this year after winning Rookie of the Year honors as a closer: "We’re going to bring [Feliz] into camp and give him an opportunity to stretch himself out. And if he shows us he’s better fitted with our ball club to start, then we’ll go in that direction. If not, we know he can close ballgames and we’re very happy with that."
- Joaquin Benoit discussed former teammates Carl Crawford and Rafael Soriano with Cafardo, opining that Red Sox pitchers will love having Crawford behind them, and expressing some surprise that Soriano won't be closing in 2011. He also told Cafardo that he was "getting a lot of phone calls" this winter from fellow relievers who felt Benoit helped them by signing early to his three-year deal.