The San Diego Padres and Cleveland Indians have positioned themselves as the current leaders in the Joaquin Benoit sweepstakes, tweets Yahoo!'s Jeff Passan. A source also tells ESPN's Buster Olney that the Padres seem to have the edge over Cleveland in the race for the longtime reliever.
Indians and Padres both in on Joaquin Benoit at two years, $14M+. Padres source says their deal may include a third-year option as well.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) December 12, 2013
An official with knowledge of Benoit contract talks believes SD is the front runner over Cleveland.— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) December 12, 2013
As Passan notes, Benoit could be in line for a two-year deal worth north of $14 million, with the potential for a third year via a club option.
The Indians' interest makes sense, since their former closer, Chris Perez, was released by the club in late October, but the Padres already have a well-paid closer in Huston Street, who had a 222 ERA+ last year and will make $7 million in 2014. The club's management has also been impervious to doling out large contracts to relievers in the past.
The 36-year-old Benoit has spent the last three seasons pitching for the Detroit Tigers after having spent the prior nine years with the Texas Rangers and Tampa Bay Rays. A long-time set-up man and owner of a career 112 ERA+, Benoit was thrust into Detroit's closer role last season in the absence of a better option. In his new role, Benoit flourished, as he put up a 2.01 ERA (209 ERA+) with 24 saves and 73 strikeouts in 67 innings pitched. His 2.8 WAR was the highest mark of his career.