Tigers Sign Joaquin Benoit

Talk about rebuilding value.  The Tigers officially signed righty reliever Joaquin Benoit to a three-year, $16.5MM deal today, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.  He can earn another $1MM per year in incentives.  It's the biggest contract for a non-closer reliever since Scott Linebrink's four-year, $19MM pact with the White Sox three years ago.  Benoit's last contract had been of the minor league variety with the Rays, but now he'll be paid $5.5MM annually.  The contract is another big score for the Levinson brothers at ACES, who also did the deals for John Buck, Brandon Inge, and Jhonny Peralta

Benoit was one of baseball's best bargains in 2010, as he posted a 1.34 ERA, 11.2 K/9, 1.6 BB/9, 0.9 HR/9, and 38.9% groundball rate in 60 1/3 innings.  Benoit was available cheaply because he was coming off rotator cuff surgery performed in January of 2009.  The Rays will receive a supplemental draft pick for their loss. 

This time around, the Tigers had to pay full sticker price with a commitment reminiscent of the Astros' three-year, $15MM deal with Brandon Lyon a year ago.  Benoit will set up for Jose Valverde in 2011, and could close in the following seasons.  The Tigers' biggest offseason deals are yet to come, as they're expected to add a big bat or two.  Tip of the hat to MLBTR's Mark Polishuk, who correctly predicted the Tigers would sign Benoit. 

Benoit is off the board, but right-handed relief remains a strong suit of this year's free agent class.

Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports was first to report the near-agreement, while ESPN's Enrique Rojas added details.


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127 Comments on "Tigers Sign Joaquin Benoit"


wickedkevin
4 years 9 months ago

I was expecting more of an incentive based deal.

Guest
4 years 9 months ago

Dang…They should have consulted with Damaso Marte first…

4 years 9 months ago

I think Benoit got the good end of this stick.

JaySchu
4 years 9 months ago

Wow, what an overpay!

$1529282
4 years 9 months ago

Wow… what on Earth are GMs doing this offseason? $17M for a guy coming off a career year at age 32-33 who missed all of 2009?

You’d think Joel Zumaya would’ve made them shy away from injury-prone relievers.

4 years 9 months ago

Exactly, it looks like they are paying money like they are expecting last year’s stats for the next three seasons, i’m not sure they’ll get it.

Guest
4 years 9 months ago

Have to agree, we’ve seen some very odd moves in the last few days.

jphenix2002
4 years 9 months ago

I was excited when I read the headline, but the price tag killed my joy

Mudhens
4 years 9 months ago

There is no salary cap in baseball. If this move means Illitch cannot afford to get a couple of big bats then yes, their overspending was a poor choice. However, if Illitch greenlights DD to offer contracts to Dunn, Crawford and VMart (at least two of them) then thank you Illitch for putting your money where your mouth is.

firealyellon
4 years 9 months ago

if they offer contracts to 2 of those 3, i can outdrink Miggy.

coachofall
4 years 9 months ago

Wow!!! I think we just saw the highest mult-year deal any reliever on the market will sign. Downs and Soriano will cost money and Picks and i think the fact that picks can be saved actually increased his value.

$1529282
4 years 9 months ago

I think Soriano will top this for sure. He may cost picks, but I imagine he can still land 3/24 at the very least, if not more. The Angels will overpay for him just like they did with Fuentes.

coachofall
4 years 9 months ago

The more I study current teams payrolls (and I know he is a Scott Boras Client) I wouldn’t be shocked if Soriano accepts arbitration and takes one year at over 10 MIl again. He won’t get that in the open market. I guess the question will be does TB take the risk and offer knowing there is a chance he accepts (again). To me this and Downs are the two most intriguing arbitration offers of the year.

$1529282
4 years 9 months ago

He could get $10M annually, and even if he doesn’t, he’ll get more than $10M total, and that’s what he cares about. Relief pitching is a volatile market. You can go from being elite to irrelevant in one years’ time, or vice versa (See: Joaquin Benoit). Relievers take the security when they can get it, especially with an injury history like Soriano has.

If he can even get 3/21, he should take it and be happy, because one slip in 2011 or one injury and he’s back to looking at a one-year, $2M-$3M.

$1529282
4 years 9 months ago

He could get $10M annually, and even if he doesn’t, he’ll get more than $10M total, and that’s what he cares about. Relief pitching is a volatile market. You can go from being elite to irrelevant in one years’ time, or vice versa (See: Joaquin Benoit). Relievers take the security when they can get it, especially with an injury history like Soriano has.

If he can even get 3/21, he should take it and be happy, because one slip in 2011 or one injury and he’s back to looking at a one-year, $2M-$3M.

$1529282
4 years 9 months ago

I think Soriano will top this for sure. He may cost picks, but I imagine he can still land 3/24 at the very least, if not more. The Angels will overpay for him just like they did with Fuentes.

4 years 9 months ago

5.5 million a year for a setup man with a career 4.47 ERA and 1.35 WHIP…wow

4 years 9 months ago

Once I saw it was for 3 years I immediatly thought of the Lyon deal. If a player is going to sign this early you know it had to be for a pretty penny. I think the Tigers thinking is that to convince Benoit not to be a closer and had to go the extra year to get hm to setup. This could work out though with Valverde only under contract for one more with an option I believe Benoit could slide into the closer role next year. I know the reliever market is deep and Tigers probably could have waited and got a bargain but they went out and got the best setup man available. If he pitches anything close to what he did last year it was a good deal for the Tigers.

$1529282
4 years 9 months ago

But why would you expect him to pitch like he did this year when 2010 was so blatantly out of line with his career numbers? I wouldn’t say Benoit is the best setup man available at all; he just had the best year of any setup guy on the market. There’s a HUGE difference between those two statements.

The Tigers just screwed themselves.

4 years 9 months ago

I don’t expect him to repeat a 1.34 era but he did that in the AL East in a more hitter friendly ball park. I could see his era in 2.30 to 2.50 range. His career stats are a little misleading has he was a starter and longman for the first half of his career. Since he became a strictly a relief pitcher he has pitched to 3.52 era with a whip of 1.21 and thats with an injury plaqued ’08. While those numbers don’t garner this contract he pitched great in ’07 got hurt in ’08 and bounced back with a ridiculous ’10. Maybe I am bias cause living in Tampa I watched him pitch quite a bit this year but he was by far the best setup man in the league this year. I think the contract looks bad because he didn’t sign as a closer. If the Angels signed him to this contract to be a closer their wouldn’t be such a back lash. You can make the argument that a setup man is more important than a closer in that he can come in with men on base and pitch more than one inning but that is an argument for another time. I think this was done with the idea of him being the closer in ’12 and ’13. The Tigers viewed him as the best relief option out there and had to pay to get him. Who would you consider a better setup man that is available?

$1529282
4 years 9 months ago

I think closers are the most overrated position in professional sports, so I’d have had the same reaction. The guy had a career year at age 33. Missed the entire season beforehand. And now he just got guaranteed almost $17M to pitch what will — best case scenario — amount to 200 innings over the next three years.

It’s an awful signing. Nearly any multi-year deal for a reliever is a bad signing in my book.

emic
4 years 9 months ago

I concur, aaron. I guess we’ll have to wait and see morneau…personally, I think he’s worth the risk – he’s shown that he can excel in the relief role. His #s are most def skewed, as was mentioned earlier.

emic
4 years 9 months ago

I concur, aaron. I guess we’ll have to wait and see morneau…personally, I think he’s worth the risk – he’s shown that he can excel in the relief role. His #s are most def skewed, as was mentioned earlier.

4 years 9 months ago

I guess it all depends on the resources your team has to spend. Due to the volatiity of relief pitching I agree it is not wise to do multi-year contracts. If your the Tampa Bay Rays or the Florida Marlins it is not feasible to do this. This contract is an overpay but I think the risk reward of having a dominant set-up man who could possibly come close to his ’10 numbers is worth it then ending up with say Octavio Dotel on a 1 year/2.5 million dollar deal by waiting out the market. I would have liked to see a 2 yr/10 mill deal for hime but he could have found more elsewhere. I can live with giving the extra year to ensure you get the best option out there. This contract won’t hamstring the Tigers from pursuing other free agents as it would other teams.

$1529282
4 years 9 months ago

I think closers are the most overrated position in professional sports, so I’d have had the same reaction. The guy had a career year at age 33. Missed the entire season beforehand. And now he just got guaranteed almost $17M to pitch what will — best case scenario — amount to 200 innings over the next three years.

It’s an awful signing. Nearly any multi-year deal for a reliever is a bad signing in my book.

verlander
4 years 9 months ago

//I think this was done with the idea of him being the closer in ’12 and ’13.//

This thought has crossed my mind. Valverde’s got only one year left on his deal.

tigers22
4 years 9 months ago

Yup. Totally agree.

jphenix2002
4 years 9 months ago

Plus the arm injury he had at the end of the season. Maybe it’s serious and Detroit doesn’t know if he can bounce back.
Still, why make that commitment so soon? The list of closers available in 2012 is going to shrink yes, but its still saturated with quality closers even if 3 or 4 sign extensions.

lvtdude
4 years 9 months ago

How long did he actually pitch with a sore shoulder? Perhaps that limited his previous effectiveness. John Smoltz said that if he would’ve known how good he would feel after surgery, he would’ve gone under the knife a lot sooner in his career. I think a lot of these guys pitch for a long time with pain before having surgery. His ERA and WHIP could nearly double this season and he’s still have good numbers.

4 years 9 months ago

Lyon was good his first here but he spent time as closer

4 years 9 months ago

Lyon was good his first here but he spent time as closer

4 years 9 months ago

I’m pretty sure they don’t have to convince him not to be a closer since, according to an NL executive quoted in Stark’s column, Benoit doesn’t like to close and has said that previously.

4 years 9 months ago

yikes. that contract is a little too rich for my stomach to handle…

4 years 9 months ago

yikes. that contract is a little too rich for my stomach to handle…

mowses
4 years 9 months ago

I don’t get it. Buck got three years, Benoit three. Some GMs are really overpaying in both years and money. What is Downs supposed to get 5 years?

wickedkevin
4 years 9 months ago

5yrs/$35m I guess. Plus $2m in incentives every year he throws lefty.

wickedkevin
4 years 9 months ago

5yrs/$35m I guess. Plus $2m in incentives every year he throws lefty.

4 years 9 months ago

I agree. I think this is bad for baseball in general. These guys are getting paid a lot of money to play a game. And when these guys, like Benoit and Buck receive these ridiculous contracts, it increases the value of the top free agents to amounts that are just INSANE. If this pattern continues, in 50 years or so these players will be earning $500 millions for 3-4 years of service. RIDICULOUS!

MeOnTheInternet
4 years 9 months ago

How will that be bad for baseball in general?

Don’t discredit their work because it’s a game, there’s this whole business-thing that revolves around that game.

Why is it RIDICULOUS?

4 years 9 months ago

Ummm… I think I was pretty clear why I think this is ridiculous. “If this pattern continues, in 50 years or so these players will be earning $500 millions for 3-4 years of service.”Every year, I see contracts getting bigger and bigger and bigger… and when guys like Benoit or Buck (which are not TOP PLAYERS) get this amount of money so early in this free agency, its a prelude of the $$$ the real TOP PLAYERS are going to get.And I think it is ridiculous!!! I personally believe that all these athletes don’t deserve to earn so much money to play a game. At the end, baseball (like any other sport) is just a game.It is not jealousy! I’m not saying they don’t deserve to get paid. It’s their job… their time… their effort… whatever… But as a baseball fan, I think these salaries are getting out of hand and we, the fans, end up paying the price. Ticket prices increase! Etc.That’s why I think this signing is bad for baseball in general. Not saying Benoit is not good… just saying Tigers are overpaying and that it sets precedent for other athletes better than Benoit to ask for even more. I respect other peoples opinion… so you are ok to disagree with me. But I’m sure there’s a lot of fans that feel the same way as I do!

emic
4 years 9 months ago

What is really “ridiculous” is that 5 of the 7 worst teams in baseball were the most profitable – greedy owners pocketing revenue sharing $ and not reinvesting in their team is “ridiculous”. Besides, aren’t the players the ones putting arses in the seats? Baseball is a multibillion $ / year industry – the players deserve to get paid for their efforts.

ugen64
4 years 9 months ago

well, one of those teams is the Marlins, and they’re the ones who gave Buck 3 years. so this seems to be the wrong place to be making that argument.

4 years 9 months ago

I partially agree with you. There are owners that are very greedy and are making lot of profits and don’t reinvest in their team to make them better. But that’s not my point.

I think salaries are getting out of control. That’s it!

I think Benoit was good last year, but he is not GREAT… and I’m worried that if guys like him are going to get so much… cannot imagine how much TOP PLAYERS will ask for. And if this pattern continues, then salaries are going to be so high that we, fans, won’t be able to go to any of the games. At the end, it is the fans who ends up paying for all this.

4 years 9 months ago

LOL. That is all…no explanation needed.

4 years 9 months ago

LOL. That is all…no explanation needed.

4 years 9 months ago

16.5 mil committed to a reliever? Wow.

4 years 9 months ago

The Tigers just got rid of a few huge contracts. I guess it’s time to start that cycle over again.

Slopeboy
4 years 9 months ago

Just your typical Yankees going out and over spending for a middle relief pitcher just because they can. Just trying to buy another championship…wait…oh it’s not the Yankees doing that kind of spending? Ah hell, never mind!

PookieGonzales
4 years 9 months ago

I laughed really, really hard at this.

Slopeboy
4 years 9 months ago

Just your typical Yankees going out and over spending for a middle relief pitcher just because they can. Just trying to buy another championship…wait…oh it’s not the Yankees doing that kind of spending? Ah hell, never mind!

dskirsa
4 years 9 months ago

The contract value might also have something to do with the Tiger’s ability to attract good talent. Benoit was one of the bigger set up guys available and, chances are, he was being courted by some bigger name teams than the Tiger’s. Tiger’s are in a position, again, where they need to pay a premium for talent.

4 years 9 months ago

That is a pretty ridiculous notion. The Tigers just flat-out overpaid for no reason.

dskirsa
4 years 9 months ago

I guess it didn’t seem as ridiculous when they overpaid for Maggs and Pudge. I suppose you’re right though…if Benoit had a choice between the Red Sox and Tiger’s (offering similar deal) then I would probably choose the Tiger’s too. It would be ridiculous for the Tiger’s to offer a better deal since they tend to be the number one choice for free agents.

While I agree they overpaid, it’s ridiculous to think a player wouldn’t factor in a team’s past performance.

verlander
4 years 9 months ago

//if Benoit had a choice between the Red Sox and Tiger’s (offering similar deal) then I would probably choose the Tiger’s too. It would be ridiculous for the Tiger’s to offer a better deal since they tend to be the number one choice for free agents.//

Sarcasm, right?

dskirsa
4 years 9 months ago

correct.

Mudhens
4 years 9 months ago

The Tigers absolutely have to pay a premium to acquire the better free agents. You can debate if they overpaid on the premium in this case but in my opinion not the idea that it is tougher for Detroit to acquire free agents.

4 years 9 months ago

Rafael Soriano should bring $8 million per year easy for 3 years… That’s what the Rays do…take players off the trash heap, recreate them and make them stars en route to the playoffs and then let everyone else sign them for the big money. Then we start over! Bad day for Rays fans to start an even worse off season…

emic
4 years 9 months ago

Soriano certainly didn’t come off the “trash heap”….

emic
4 years 9 months ago

Soriano certainly didn’t come off the “trash heap”….

Motor_City_Bombshell
4 years 9 months ago

I was excited…until I saw the dollar amount. He better amount to at least around his 2010 numbers at least 2 out of the 3 years of this contract, or it will be a failure in my book. At least the Tigers are openly committed to fielding a contending team, that much I can appreciate. But I wish DD wouldn’t throw the money around so foolishly…

FunkyTime
4 years 9 months ago

His 2010 numbers are unmatchable. But if he pitches well this deal could still be worth it.

After next year he may be the closer, and this contract is much less out of line for a closer.