Phillies Ink Reliever Joaquin Benoit to a $7.5 Million, One-Year Deal

According to multiple reports, the Phillies and 39-year old reliever Joaquin Benoit have agreed to a one-year, $7.5 million contract.

The MLB winter meetings just started yesterday, and the Phillies wasted little time in making their first big move of the week. According to both Jon Heyman of Fanrag Sports and an Associated Press source, right-handed reliever Joaquin Benoit has signed with the club on a one-year, $7.5 million contract. A corresponding move has yet to be announced as the 40-man roster is currently full.

Reports surfaced Sunday night that the two sides were close to an agreement. Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly said the move “is expected to be announced before the meetings end on Thursday.”

Benoit struggled to start off 2016 as he had a 5.18 ERA and 1.438 WHIP in 26 games with Seattle. After a midseason trade to the Blue Jays, Benoit was lights-out. He allowed just one run over 25 appearances for Toronto for a 0.38 ERA. The Phils would be elated to get that kind of production from Benoit.

2017 would be Benoit’s 16th year in the major-leagues. He spent eight with the Texas Rangers to start off his career, and has spent time with the Tigers, Padres, Rays, Mariners, and Blue Jays. Over 712 career appearances, Benoit has a 3.79 ERA, 1.232 WHIP, 3.7 BB/9, and 8.9 K/9.

The 39-year old Benoit would easily be the oldest player on the Phillies roster. The only other players on the roster pver 30 are the 33-year old Howie Kendrick and the 36-year old Pat Neshek.

There was a definite need to improve the bullpen this winter “since it kept vomiting all over itself in the 2016 home stretch,” as Yahoo! Sports so elegantly put it. They had a league-worst 7.88 ERA in September.

This would be the Phils’ third acquisition of a reliever so far after trading for Neshek, claiming David Rollins off of waivers, and now signing Benoit. While Rollins is not a sure bet, Neshek and Benoit will join some solid relievers in Hector Neris, Edburay Ramos, Jeanmar Gomez, and Joely Rodriguez.

Benoit may be in the running to be the Phils’ closer in 2017. He would likely compete with 2016 closer Gomez as well as Neris, who served as their fireman throughout 2016.

Similar to Neris, Benoit relies primarily on his mid-90s fastball and a splitter. He also possesses a slider that he used 17.57% of the time in 2016 according to Brooks Baseball. Their “At-A-Glance” feature has the following to say about Benoit’s arsenal:

“His fourseam fastball has slight armside run and has slightly above average velo. His splitter generates more whiffs/swing compared to other pitchers’ splitters and has slight armside fade. His slider generates more whiffs/swing compared to other pitchers’ sliders, is much harder than usual, has less than expected depth and has primarily 12-6 movement.”

As mentioned earlier, the Phillies have to make room on their 40-man roster for Benoit as it is currently full. This would likely mean designating someone for assignment.

However, they may also wind up concocting a trade before the winter meetings are done. Regardless, someone will be leaving the roster soon.

The signing of Benoit shows a continuing commitment to building the bullpen by Klentak and Co. This certainly won’t be the last move of the winter meetings for the team as they need to make room for Benoit. Despite his age, Benoit should be a solid piece in the bullpen next season.

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