Padres sign Joaquin Benoit for 2 years, $15.5 million

Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE

In signing Benoit, San Diego has secured a little Huston Street insurance and shored up the eighth inning.

The San Diego Padres have come to terms on a two-year, $15.5 million deal with reliever Joaquin Benoit, according to Yahoo's Jeff Passan.

The market on relief pitching has intensified quickly over the last couple of days.

Now that San Diego has joined the action, seven teams have inked late-inning arms since the beginning of the week. Benoit joins freshly minted relievers Grant Balfour, J.P. Howell, Matt Albers, John Axford, Matt Thornton, and Jose Veras on the news stream.

Benoit has been excellent over the last few years. Since 2010, the 36-year-old has posted a 2.53 ERA in 259.1 innings for the Rays and Tigers. Last season, the uncertainty at the back end of the Tigers' bullpen led to Benoit's first extended look as a closer. He rewarded his team's confidence by putting up a 1.6 fWAR in 67 innings and closing out 24 of 26 save opportunities.

In San Diego, he'll presumably take the place of 2013 set-up man Luke Gregerson, who was recently traded to the Athletics for outfielder Seth Smith. Huston Street will likely remain the Padres' closer as long as he can avoid an extended stay on the disabled list, something he hasn't been able to do since since being traded to the Padres in 2011. Street will be a free agent after next season.

If Street goes down, having Benoit in line to replace him could be huge for the Padres. The club appears to have designs on making a serious run at the NL West this season after signing Josh Johnson and landing Smith. Their prospects might not be fully actualized yet, but the moves general manager Josh Byrnes has made so far this winter may be an indication that he believes his team is approaching a legitimate competition window.

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