Padres rumors: San Diego making 'strong push' for Joaquin Benoit

Leon Halip

The Friars have emerged as a surprise suitor for the veteran reliever.

The Padres are making a "strong push" to sign free-agent reliever Joaquin Benoit, reports Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports.

San Diego reportedly has a two-year, $14 million-plus offer (with a third-year option) on the table for the veteran right-hander, per Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports, but they're not the only ones. The Indians have also made a similar two-year offer to Benoit, though it's unknown if their proposal includes the option year.

The 36-year-old has been one of the league's more durable late-inning arms since returning from 2009 rotator cuff surgery. The right-hander owns a 2.53 ERA and a strikeout rate of better than 10 batters per nine in 259⅓ innings over the last four seasons, averaging roughly 67 appearances a year.

Benoit performed (mostly) well in the closer role for the Tigers in 2013, but he's unlikely to take on ninth-inning duties for the Padres should he strike a deal with them. With Luke Gregerson departing to Oakland and Huston Strett locked into at closer for at least 2014, Benoit would likely step into San Diego's bullpen as a setup man.

According to Fox Sports' Jon Morosi, the club is interested in potentially adding a righty and a lefty eighth-inning arm, so guys on the radar like Scott Downs and Oliver Perez could remain in play even if San Diego ends up outbidding Cleveland for Benoit.

If having the closer moniker is something that's important to Benoit, then Cleveland would probably be the apt choice. The Tribe has been searching for a new stopper since releasing Chris Perez at the end of the season, and they're running out of Proven Closer™ options with Joe Nathan and Brian Wilson off the market.

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