Update: ESPN Deportes' Enrique Rojas confirms a three-year, $16.5 million deal. (Twitter)
FoxSports' Jon Paul Morosi reports the Tigers are close to signing right-handed setup man Joaquin Benoit to a multi-year deal that could be as long as three seasons.
Benoit had one of the best seasons of any setup man this year, compiling a 1.34 ERA and 25 holds in 63 appearances. Benoit showed improved stuff, coming off surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff.
The deal is reportedly in its final stages.
Benoit is coming off his best season in the MLB, and his results were driven by some pretty unrepeatable luck, but even before his surgery he was a capable strikeout artist. Walked a few too many, though. FirstInning.com shows after the surgery his strikeout rate surged to 42.5 percent in Triple A and 34.5 percent in the MLB in 2010. He also stopped walking as many, and the walk percentage fell into the single digits. These kinds of stats I think are more repeatable. As well, he is more of a flyball pitcher than a groundball pitcher, which works well given Detroit's infield.
Benoit primarily uses three pitches: a mid-90s fastball, a changeup and a fastball. He relies on his four-seam fastball mainly, throwing it about two-thirds of the time. But he drops in the changeup and slider to a lot of success when he chooses to deploy them.
At Fangraphs, Bill James Projections put him at 2.91 ERA, with fewer srikeouts and more walks than last season but better than career-average numbers. I expect Benoit to continue to be the kind of pitcher who helps shorten games by an inning most days he takes the mound and a nice bit of insurance next to Tigers closer Jose Valverde.
No financial figures have been set out yet. He may not be coming in as a closer for the Tigers, but he is a setup man of some rather good acclaim and I'm sure would have been on the radar for several teams. So I doubt he comes too cheap. Less than Valverde. But probably not too far from closer money. Call it 3 years, $14-15 million maybe? Plus he's a Type-B free agent. The Tigers don't have to give up a draft pick for him. To be fair though, they'll probably just give it up to another team anyway. (Update: $16.5 million. So was a tad too conservative on the $5 million per year estimate)
Fun fact; Benoit holds the record for the longest save in the MLB: A seven-inning, one-hit appearance according to MLB.com's Rangers site. How is that possible? Don't ask me.
How do I feel about this addition though? I am very much in favor of it!