Much of the focus of the New York Yankees has been replacing Robinson Cano at second base. However, GM Brian Cashman is still looking for other pieces as well. He would like to add another starting pitcher, two bullpen arms and a third baseman. One bullpen arm that apparently has intrigued the Yankees is Joaquin Benoit.
Benoit, 36, is coming off of a very nice season that saw him pitch to a 2.01 ERA with 73 strikeouts in 67 innings. He also recorded a career-high 24 saves as he took over the Detroit Tigers’ closer job partway through the season. It was the first time Benoit was given the closer’s role in his career and he answered the call.
There is experience pitching in the AL East. Benoit pitched to a 1.34 ERA with 75 strikeouts in 60.1 innings for the Tampa Bay Rays in 2010 so that could be one of the reasons Cashman is interested. The Yankees do value pitchers who have shown an ability to pitch within the division and Benoit also has postseason experience, another bonus.
The Yankees so far have not committed to David Robertson as the closer and have instead said there would be a competition for the job. Both Robertson and Benoit are among the best set-up men in the game. Robertson has very little closing experience and teams still desire experience in that role. Even if the Yankees named Robertson their closer they would certainly need someone to replace Robertson in the set-up role and Benoit might be comfortable setting Robertson up if he loses the closer competition.
There is no doubt the Yankees could certainly use a relief pitcher like Benoit. The only question in regard to Benoit is his age. He is 36 right now and will turn 37 in July. If he is looking for a multi-year deal teams could be scared off. Nobody wants a pitcher, especially an expensive middle reliever, stuck on their roster and making a lot of money. The Yankees would probably love to get Benoit on a one-year deal but Benoit will be looking for at least two years. Expect Cashman to contact Benoit’s agent but I would be surprised if Benoit became a Yankee. I wouldn’t be shocked, however.