After at least a week of negotiations, the Padres have officially inked former Tigers closer Joaquin Benoit to a deal, reports Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports. The deal will be worth around $15 million over two years, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.
Earlier in the week, it had been reported that the Padres had an offer on the table worth around $14 million for two years, with an option for a third season. The Indians had also been interested in Benoit, but signed John Axford to a deal earlier in the week.
The Padres have been looking to bolster their bullpen this offseason as they hoped to acquire one left-handed and one right-handed late-innings arm. Benoit certainly fills the right-handed criteria.
Now 36, Benoit received his first real chance to close in 2013 as he was a rare bright spot in the Tigers' bullpen. He would up saving 24 games with a 2.01 ERA and 1.03 WHIP. Since returning from rotator cuff surgery that cost him all of the 2009 season, he has not once failed to toss at least 60 innings. In the four years since the procedure, he has a 2.53 ERA and has struck out over ten batters per nine innings.
Strengthening their relief corps with Benoit could give the Padres one of the most feared bullpens in baseball next season. They were already in the top-10 in reliever ERA in 2013 as players like Luke Gregerson, Dale Thayer and Joe Thatcher all had big years in set-up roles. Gregerson is no longer with the team, having been traded to the Athletics, but the others remain.
Benoit won't have the opportunity to close out games with San Diego. That role will remain with Huston Street, who posted a 2.70 ERA and saved 33 games in 2013 and has looked very good since joining the Padres in 2012.