The San Diego Padres looked to bolster their pitching staff this offseason, and they have been very successful so far.
After signing free agent starter Josh Johnson to a one-year, $8 million deal that could turn out to be a bargain if Johnson pitches like he did with the Miami Marlins, the Padres focused on the bullpen and have found their man in Joaquin Benoit. They have reportedly signed the former Detroit Tigers closer to a two-year, $15.5 million deal, very similar to the one by Grant Balfour received with the Baltimore Orioles only a few days ago.
Benoit was heavily targeted by a number of teams in both the NL and the AL, and will probably serve as the setup man for Huston Street. He could even gain the closer role is Street struggles, and has experience doing so after saving 24 games for the Tigers this past season.
Benoit’s arrival dramatically improves a bullpen that needed another late-inning arm to complement Street and after trading Luke Gregerson to the Oakland Athletics during this past week, the organization needed another arm to solidify the relief corps.
After recovering from a major shoulder problem four years ago, Benoit has been one of the most dominant late relievers in all of baseball with a 2.53 ERA in almost 260 innings. It’s safe to say that if Benoit pitches like he has been in recent years, he could be a key man for a Padres team that will look to push for a playoff spot next year.