11:59pm: Benoit’s deal is a one-year contract and it will be finalized when he passes a physical, Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.
10:04pm: The Phillies are close to a deal with veteran reliever Joaquin Benoit, CSNPhilly.com’s Jim Salisbury reports. The contract is expected to be announced before the end of the Winter Meetings on Thursday.
Benoit’s 15th big league season was really like two seasons in one, as he struggled with both the long ball and his control over 24 1/3 innings with the Mariners before being traded to the Blue Jays in late July. In Toronto, Benoit turned things around in spectacular fashion, posting an 0.38 ERA, 9.1 K/9, 2.67 K/BB rate and just one home run allowed over 23 2/3 IP as a Blue Jay. He missed out on the Jays’ postseason run due to a torn calf muscle suffered in a bench-clearing brawl with the Yankees in late September.
Assuming a deal is finalized, the Phillies would be the seventh team Benoit has suited up for during his long career. The 39-year-old has somewhat flown under the radar as one of the best relievers in baseball in recent years, posting a 2.40 ERA, 3.56 K/BB rate and an even 10.0 K/9 over 427 bullpen innings since the start of the 2010 season.
As Salisbury notes, Benoit does have some closing experience but for now likely slots in alongside Pat Neshek as the veteran setup options behind Hector Neris and Jeanmar Gomez. Salisbury speculates that Benoit could give the Phils added depth so the team could shop Neris or Gomez; Neris in particular would draw a lot of attention on the open market, though Philadelphia would want a lot in return.