Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Tigers Close to Signing Benoit

According to Jon Morosi of Fox Sports, the Tigers are close to signing reliever Joaquin Benoit to a multi-year contract.  The 33-year-old right-hander was one of the top set-up men in baseball last year pitching for the Tampa Bay Rays.  He posted a spectacular 1.34 ERA and 75/11 K/BB ratio in 60 1/3 innings with the Rays last year.  He will set up closer Jose Valverde in the Tigers pen.

My favorite Joaquin Benoit statistic?  He led the majors with a 86% clean outing percentage last year.  According to The Bill James Handbook, a clean outing is any appearance in which a reliever does not allow a run to score and does not allow an inherited run to score.  In 63 appearances, he had 54 clean outings. 

Another good thing about the signing is that Benoit is a type B free agent meaning the Tigers will not have to surrender a draft pick for him.  Also, the Tigers are not done searching for relievers as they plan to sign an experienced left-hander as well.  Dave Dombrowski is clearly making the bullpen a priority this winter and that's a good thing.

While this is a great signing for the Tigers, Benoit does not come without risks.  Pitching for the Rangers between 2001-2008, he struggled with his control walking 4.3 batters per nine innings.  More recently, he missed all of the 2009 season after undergoing rotator cuff surgery.  Still, he came back as a better pitcher last year, so he's a good risk.

When was the last time the Tigers had a duo like Valverde and Benoit at the back of the bullpen? Willie Hernandez and Aurelio Lopez?

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