With December just days away, the off-season usually begins to pick up and free agents start signing with teams. We continue to take a look at possible players that could fill a need in Los Angeles.
Today, we take a look at a relief pitcher that worked his first season as a primary closer in 2013:
Benoit is a 36-year-old relief pitcher that spent last season with the Detroit Tigers. In his career, he has a 4.11 ERA in 850.2 innings over 12 seasons.
Benoit spent his first season as a primary closer and did very well for the Tigers. He finished with 24 saves and a 2.01 ERA in 66 games.
The 36-year-old has been one of the most consistent reliever/set-up man in the past four years. He’s kept his ERA under 3.68 since 2010 in the American League and has thrown at least 60 innings. He handled the pressure of the closer role last season after beginning the year as the set-up man. Benoit was usually brought in for high-leverage situations and used overpowering stuff to get out of jams.
Benoit has been a workhorse the past four seasons and hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down. A move to the National League and pitcher-friendly Dodger Stadium would improve his ERA even more. Benoit is a strikeout pitcher in a role that usually demands strikeouts. Since 2006, Benoit has averaged just under 10 strikeouts per nine innings.
With the impending decision on free agent Brian Wilson, the Dodgers may be in need of a set-up man for closer Kenley Jansen. Benoit fits the bill and would come in and become one of the top arms in the Dodger bullpen. With him, the Dodgers would have control of the eighth and ninth innings and leave the rest to the young arms of Paco Rodriguez, Chris Withrow and Jose Dominguez.
Benoit is 36 and is in a position that’s undergone a youth movement in recent years. Although he’s coming off a season in which he posted strong numbers, he may be susceptible to a decline due to his age. He’s a hard-thrower, but the Dodgers may be better served giving the ball to younger, cheaper arms. The Dodgers would have to give Benoit a short-term deal and hope that he’d continue his strong play.
The Dodgers are already paying Brandon League over $7 million a year and may not be willing to give out a high-priced contract to another reliever. Also, Benoit may want to remain at the closer position after his success last season. The Dodgers are heading into the future with Jansen as the closer and wouldn’t want to bring in someone that would threaten their decision if he were to struggle.
The right-hander imploded in the 2013 postseason for the Tigers with a 6.35 ERA in six appearances. Benoit had done well in his career in the postseason but struggled mightily last season. The Dodgers need to trust their bullpen in the playoffs and may be hesitant knowing Benoit’s recent past. Any extra runs in close games could be the different between a World Series and another early exit.
Benoit’s made at least $5 million the past three years and will be looking for at least that much next season. He may command a multi-year deal worth $5-7 million a year. The right-hander will likely get a two-year deal with a player option worth $5 million a year with incentives that will increase it to $8 million.
Chances Dodgers Sign Him: 25%
The Dodgers won’t want another high-priced reliever on the team unless it’s Wilson. The team has more than enough young arms in the farm system to be able to create a bullpen from within; however, they may want an insurance policy should Jansen fail or go do with an injury.
If the Dodgers don’t re-sign Wilson, then they may contact Benoit but will scoff at his price tag and should go with the relievers on the team.