7:42pm: Benoit’s option is actually for $7.5MM and carried a $1MM buyout as opposed to $8MM with a $1.5MM buyout, according to MLB.com’s Corey Brock. Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune tweets that the buyout on the option could’ve escalated based on games finished, but the acquisition of Craig Kimbrel, of course, kept that from happening.
6:17pm: The Padres announced (Twitter link) that they’ve exercised their $8MM club option on right-hander Joaquin Benoit and declined their $2MM club option on Clint Barmes. Benoit’s option came with a $1.5MM buyout, meaning the decision essentially boiled down to whether or not the club valued him on a one-year, $6.5MM contract. Barmes will be paid a $200K buyout instead of the $2MM value of his option. I explored both situations recently while previewing the Padres’ offseason, noting that these outcomes were likely.
Benoit, 38, posted a stellar 2.34 ERA with 8.7 K/9, 3.2 BB/9 and a 46.3 percent ground-ball rate in 65 1/3 innings for the Friars in 2015. Detractors will note that both his strikeout and walk rates trended in the wrong direction, and his velocity declined a bit, while ERA estimators like FIP, xFIP and SIERA all feel that Benoit’s ERA is due to rise into the mid-3.00s. However, Benoit’s been able to maintain better-than-average marks in BABIP and strand rate, helping him to continually outperform said metrics.
As I noted in the above-linked offseason outlook, by exercising Benoit’s option, the Padres are effectively raising their payroll north of their 2015 Opening Day mark despite the fact that they have quite a bit of work to do this winter. Between Benoit, Matt Kemp, James Shields, Jedd Gyorko, Melvin Upton and Alexi Amarista, the team already has $82.25MM committed to the 2016 payroll. That doesn’t include significant arbitration raises to Tyson Ross, Andrew Cashner, Yonder Alonso, Derek Norris and Will Middlebrooks and league-minimum players to round out the roster, which could bring the total to as much as $112MM.
Barmes, on the other hand, batted .232/.281/.353 in 224 plate appearances with the Padres in 2015. Of course, offense has never been Barmes’ calling card; he’s been best-known for his defensive prowess at shortstop for much of his career. Defensive metrics such as Defensive Runs Saved and Ultimate Zone Rating indicated that the 36-year-old’s glovework took a step backward this year, but his strong track record in that regard should lead to some interest on the free agent market this winter as Barmes prepares for his age-37 season.