Though each player just had his option exercised yesterday, Padres right-hander Joaquin Benoit and Brewers first baseman Adam Lind are both available in trade talks right now, tweets ESPN’s Buster Olney.
While the news isn’t necessarily unexpected, especially in Lind’s case, it could certainly have an impact on the offseason direction of multiple clubs. A team that acquires Lind in the near future — and it’s worth keeping in mind that he was traded from Toronto to Milwaukee on Nov. 1 last year, making a near-future deal plenty possible — would likely be plugging a hole at first base or designated hitter, thereby removing them from the free agent market at said positions. Clubs in possible need of first base/DH help could include the Pirates, Orioles, Rockies, Mariners, White Sox, Astros and A’s, depending on roster decisions made by each club early in the offseason.
Olney further tweets that catcher Jonathan Lucroy and closer Francisco Rodriguez “are available for trade talks” as well, as new Milwaukee GM David Stearns aims to make his team younger and build for the future. Any of the three Brewers players mentioned by Olney would have value to another team, with Lind controlled for one year at $8MM, Rodriguez owed $7.5MM this coming season (plus a $2MM buyout or $6MM club option for 2017) and Lucroy owed $4MM in 2016 (plus a $5.25MM club option for 2017).
As for Benoit, the Padres exercised a $7.5MM club option over him yesterday rather than paying a $1MM buyout. The 38-year-old is coming off three exceptionally strong seasons split between the Tigers and Padres, having worked to a 1.98 ERA with 9.6 K/9, 2.8 BB/9 and a 41.7 percent ground-ball rate. Although metrics such as FIP, xFIP and SIERA feel that Benoit has overperformed, he’s been able to sustain abnormally low BABIP levels and high strand rates, suggesting that there’s some degree of skill involved in those atypical marks. While there’s been a good deal of talk about the Padres potentially trading Craig Kimbrel this winter, and Benoit then closing for the team next season, it appears that Benoit will be marketed prior to any theoretical Kimbrel talks. A trade of Benoit wouldn’t rule out the possibility of dealing Kimbrel, of course, but moving both would create quite a bit of work for the Padres in the bullpen, as right-hander Shawn Kelley is also up for free agency this winter.