The San Diego Padres reached an agreement with righthanded reliever Joaquin Benoit on a two-year deal that will be worth close to $15 million once finalized, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. Benoit will likely serve as the setup man for closer Huston Street
The 36 year-old Benoit enjoyed a fine season with the Detroit Tigers in 2013. After Jose Valverde was released, Benoit took over closing duties, and finished the season with 24 saves. In 66 games, he managed a 2.01 ERA and struck out 27.6 percent of hitters while walking 8.3 percent.
Over the last four years, Benoit has been one of the best relievers in baseball. In terms of RA-9 WAR, he’s 8th in baseball, between Greg Holland and Kenley Jansen. He possesses a 2.53 ERA with a 29.2 percent strikeout rate and a 7.1 percent walk rate. Furthermore, he has a 14.9 percent swinging strike rate and opposing hitters have batted just .196 against Benoit.
It’s been quite the late-career turnaround for Benoit, who possessed a 4.79 ERA and 4.50 FIP in his first eight big league seasons. Then, he missed the entire 2009 season with a torn rotator cuff. The Tampa Bay Rays took a chance on him in 2010, and he responded with a 1.34 ERA and a 34.6 percent strikeout rate and 5.1 percent walk rate. Opposing hitters hit just .146 against Benoit in 2010.
Nevertheless, Benoit is a pretty good candidate for regression in 2014. Over the last four years, his BABIP is .251. As a high strikeout, flyball pitcher he can hold down BABIP better than most, but this mark will probably come up closer to his career average of .275. Also, his strand rate of 83.4 percent will likely drop closer to his career mark.
Steamer predicts some regression for Benoit in 2014. It calls for a 2.88 ERA and 3.16 FIP in 55 innings. Solid work, but for a team with as many holes to fill as the Padres, not the production that you should pay $15 million for.