Scouting the Free Agent Market: Joaquin Benoit

Phillies Gone Crazy: GM Indicates Lee, Hamels, Papelbon Available
Yanks could pass on the top free agent pitchers now and look for better next winter

The Yankees have approached the offseason aggressively — Brian McCann, Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran are all big money import signings – particularly now that Robinson Cano has joined the most dysfunctional team in baseball Mariners.  The team really can’t afford to stop there though, if they wish to compete in 2014.  A quality second/third baseman along with another solid rotation arm is an absolute must.  Additionally, the bullpen needs some revamping too.  Fortunately, there are several relief options and one such option might come in the form of Joaquin Benoit.  Let’s take a look.

The Pros

  • The man knows how to throw strikes (averaged 9.92 K/9 over the past three seasons) and he’s done it in high leverage situations.  Benoit’s done a good job of keeping the ball in the park as well (averaged 1.06 HR/9 over the past three seasons) which would obviously be important in the hitter-friendly confines of Yankee stadium. According to PitchFX, Benoit’s fastball velocity has consistently sat around 93 miles per hour over the past few seasons.
  • In terms of overall results, in 2013 he pitched to a 2.01 ERA which ranked fifteenth among active relievers (2.87 FIP, 3.16 xFIP).  Over the past four seasons he produced a 2.49 ERA (3.13 FIP, 3.04 xFIP).  In other words, he’s been productive.
  • Benoit has averaged 67 appearances in each of the past four seasons.  Although no player is guaranteed to remain healthy over the course of the year, it’s good to see some semblance of durability and consistency – particularly from a player in a role that is notoriously volatile when it comes to health and production.
  • Despite Benoit’s effectiveness last season, the Tigers elected to not extend him the qualifying offer. If the Yankees sign him, there would be no draft pick compensation.
  • I don’t envy the man who has to take over the closer role now that Mariano Rivera has retired.  In a way, I’d rather have an “outsider” come in and face the ninth inning pressures instead of David Robertson.  It’s not that I doubt D-Rob’s ability, but we know he can excel in his current role and provide a lot of value, so why screw around with a good thing.  In any event, regardless of who closes between the two of them, some much needed depth will be provided to the relief core with the addition of a guy like Benoit.

The Cons

  • Benoit isn’t a kid anymore. Next season, he’ll turn 37 years old. That’s not exactly a deal breaker, but on a team with several older players on its roster already, it’s not exactly ideal either.
  • For what it’s worth, Benoit does not have a long history of closer experience.  Although he earned 24 saves last season in convincing fashion, he really hasn’t spent much time in the closer role for any extended period of time prior. (I do believe he’s shown himself capable of handling that job though).
  • Although there are several closers available this offseason (not to mention Jonathan Papelbon who’s apparently being shopped), Benoit’s price tag will likely wind up being expensive – both in terms of dollars and years ($8-9M / two years maybe?). Multiple years for another aging veteran might not be worth the risk. On the other hand, I suspect most of the quality relief options will require at least two years so maybe that comes with the territory anyway; I suppose the real question comes down to who do you trust out there over the course of a long grueling season.
  • Comerica Park is a pretty big stadium, and is certainly a pitcher’s paradise compared to the small confines of Yankees Stadium.  Benoit won’t turn into a pumpkin overnight, but his stats will inflate some for sure in NY (though this can be said for any pitcher coming to NY really). Fortunately, he does have good strike out stuff which should help.

The Tigers decision to not give Benoit the qualifying offer doesn’t feel like one of those situations where they know something about him that everyone else doesn’t.  I really do think it’s a matter of dollars and cents, though I wouldn’t be shocked to see the Tigers ultimately try to retain his services.  As far as the Yankees are concerned, adding one more quality arm with strikeout ability to the bullpen sounds like a great idea.  I’d be all for it.

Phillies Gone Crazy: GM Indicates Lee, Hamels, Papelbon Available
Yanks could pass on the top free agent pitchers now and look for better next winter
  • Jorge Brosada

    Benoit…Balls! Nailed it.

    • jjyank

      Well done.

  • xman

    Benoit or Grant Balfour?

    cast your votes.

  • Frank Colon

    Get Balfour

  • Vern Sneaker

    Balfour for me, but I’d be okay with Benoit too.

  • Claudell

    I’ll give you a major con: Watch any of his 2013 postseason appearances. “Deer in headlights” would be too kind.

    • Matthew Warden

      Overall, it’s been okay. He’s struggled a bit over the last couple postseasons with the Tigers. Of course, it all has to be taken with a monumental grain of salt given the sample size.

  • JGYank

    Would be be fine with getting him but he’s expensive. Cabral is our lefty right now I think, and I’m not really comfortable with that. Not sure how Logan’s surgery went, but I’m definitely interested in keeping him. Don’t see them spending much on the pen however when we need a sp and at least 1 infielder at 2b or 3b (preferably 2b since Arod could return).

  • Dr. Grenaldine

    Remember when he tossed up an easter egg to Ortiz in the ALCS?


    • Jim Is A (Bored) Peckerhead

      Remember when that one guy made one mistake that one time in an important situation? GAG!

      • Dr. Grenaldine

        Yes. I remember! I just mentioned it!

  • Baked McBride

    Ortiz already made him his playoff bitch, so pass

    Like trying to pick up Arthur Rhodes to face David Justice once Justice left

  • Dicka24

    His meatball in the ALCS handed the Sox the series. I’d take him, but the price has to be right. I’d rather go the piecemeal route, than overpay for someone who’s back-to-backs have to be monitored, and isn’t a true closer.

    Girardi is good managing bullpens. I think the Yanks know this and are looking to save coin here. Let the first and second wave of relievers get the big money, and then feast on the best of the arms that are left.

  • nsalem

    How would the signing of Benoit effect our ability to sign D-Rob after the 2014 season? Would it be wise to try to extend Robertson now? I also worry that since Benoit’s resume at a glance (putting Benoit’s closing experience aside) seems quite similar to that of Robertson, this would seem unfair to D-Rob (giving Benoit 2 years for 16 million). I think Robertson has been great for the Yankees on and off the field and I hope he’s here for years to come. It’s a delicate situation and I hope the FO hands it correctly. i’m sure a middle ground (such as giving Dave some financial secutiry by extending exists). I also think that it would be unfair to intimate that Robertsonblew it in his 2 or 3 game closing opportunity in 2012. Just like it is unfair to bring up Benoit yielding the homerun to Ortiz. Ortiz has mashed against some great pitches in his career.

  • Dicka24

    Trumbo to the D’backs in a 3-team deal. I wonder if Prado or Aaron Hill become available.

    • CS Yankee

      They’re claiming that they’ll use him in LF…LOL. He is a part-time 1B/RF/DH, he might make Raul look good for a LFer.