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?