The market for reliever Joaquin Benoit is picking up. According to CBS Sports' Jon Heyman, the San Diego Padres' right-hander is drawing interest from the Cleveland Indians, Detroit Tigers, and Pittsburgh Pirates. While Benoit is certainly garnering significant interest, Heyman does add that it is not a certainty that he is dealt, with one source calling the entire situation "up in the air."
While it is still unknown if the Indians will be buyers or not, the Pirates and Tigers are both seeking eighth innings options, and Benoit may be the top choice available. The two clubs already appear locked in on Mark Melancon and Joe Nathan, respectively, as their closers, so Benoit would also serve as an added insurance option in case of injury or, in Nathan's case, further struggles. Pittsburgh and Detroit have also been mentioned as possible landing spots for Rangers' closer Joakim Soria.
Despite his current role and past experience, most teams don't seem to view Benoit as a "true" closer, and with him locked up through next season, San Diego may not be inclined to deal him so soon. Also looking at what Huston Street recently returned from the Angels, it's unlikely that the Padres receive an offer even relatively similar for Benoit, though that has more to do with the absurdness of what the Angels gave up than the price difference between Street and Benoit.
Benoit is owed $8 million next year on what remains of a two-year deal he signed with San Diego last winter. He also carries a $8 million club option for 2016 that comes with a $1.5 million buyout.
Benoit is in the midst of a truly fantastic season, owning a 1.99 ERA, 174 ERA+, 2.60 FIP, 10.4 K/9, 2.4 BB/9, and 1.1 WAR. He has consistently been one of the better relievers in baseball, accruing at least 1.0 WAR in each of the past five seasons, and averaging a 1.4 WAR and 134 ERA+ since 2005.