Could Joaquin Benoit replace Huston Street as Padres' closer?

Leon Halip

Now that Benoit is officially a Padre, the future has gotten pretty cloudy for Huston Street.

The San Diego Padres have officially added reliever Joaquin Benoit to their 40-man roster, leading to questions about  Huston Street's future with the team, as Bill Center of U-T San Diego reports.

More: The Best of Baseball 2013 Part One Part Two

Benoit agreed to a two-year deal with the club that includes a vesting option for 2016 if he finishes 55 games in 2016. That stipulation in the paperwork and the $15.5 million the Padres guaranteed in the deal seem to hint at a changing of the guard in the ninth inning.

Street has served as San Diego's closer since they acquired him from the Athletics in 2011, posting a 2.35 ERA and 56 saves over that span. Next season, the 30-year-old right hander will earn $7 million with a mutual option at the same price tag for 2015. Mutual options are rarely agreed to by both sides, so unless an extension is worked out between now and next winter, Street could be headed for free agency after 2014.

In addition to signing Benoit, San Diego traded former set-up man Luke Gregerson to the Athletics for outfielder Seth Smith. Benoit will likely slide into that role for 2014, but he might be showing up in the ninth inning sooner rather than later. General manager has endorsed Street as the closer for 2014, but that could change quickly if Street hits the disabled list.

In 2013, Benoit saved 24 games for the Tigers with a 2.01 ERA in 67 innings. He's put up 37 saves in his 12-year career, but he's proven to an extremely durable reliever over the last four years, posting a 2.53 ERA in 259.1 innings since 2010. That durability might have led to the Padres' willingness to offer him what could end up as a three-year deal.

Huston Street has been anything but durable in his career, having spent time on the disabled list four different times in his time with San Diego.

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