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After missing all of 2009 due to rotator cuff surgery, Joaquin Benoit made a triumphant return in 2010. The 32-year-old signed with the Rays as a minor-league free agent and by the end of April was back in the majors. Benoit became a key part of the Rays’ bullpen, setting up for closer Rafael Soriano and helping Tampa Bay to the American League East title. Here’s how Benoit’s 2010 campaign compared to his previous two seasons in Texas:

YR

G

IP

W-L

ERA

BB

SO

WXRL

VORP

2007

70

82.0

7-4

2.85

28

87

3.529

27.0

2008

44

45.0

3-2

5.00

35

43

-0.276

1.1

2010

63

60.1

1-2

1.34

11

75

3.063

25.6

That’s an astonishing 11.1 SO9 and 1.7 BB9 last season. Benoit’s VORP was third on Tampa Bay’s pitching staff and his WXRL eighth among American League relievers. Benoit is a three-pitch pitcher, primarily using his four-seam fastball: 

YR

FB% (MPH)

SL% (MPH)

CH% (MPH)

2007

58.6% (92.6)

19.7% (86.1)

20.7% (83.1)

2008

64.6% (91.7)

13.2% (86.1)

21.8% (83.2)

2010

65.0% (94.0)

12.6% (85.7)

22.5% (83.5)

Career avg.

63.1% (91.8)

16.1% (84.6)

17.9% (81.7)

After his shoulder surgery, Benoit’s fastball shot up by nearly 3 mph (the hardest he has ever thrown it), while his slider and change stayed consistent in the low-to-mid 80s. Benoit does not have closer-type stuff, but could still land a deal as a free agent similar to what Octavio Dotel got last season with the Pirates ($3.5 million for one year plus a club option). 

These are the teams that could use Benoit’s arm in their bullpen:

Team

ERA (rank)

WXRL (rank)

BOS

4.63 (22nd)

4.844 (25th)

CHA

4.39 (18th)

6.341 (20th)

DET

4.30 (24th)

6.280 (21st)

NYA

4.06 (15th)

8.182 (9th)

PHI

3.95 (6th)

7.523 (12th)

WAS

4.13 (19th)

6.570 (18th)

With the Rays set to cut their payroll drastically, Benoit likely won't be back with them. Add that the Red Sox have been heavily linked to Benoit. Now it’s your turn: where do you think Benoit will sign?

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biteme
11/16
AL hitters will be happy to learn "Benoit does not have closer-type stuff." Maybe they were mesmerized by his shiny necklace.
duck4169
11/16
I'm with HeavyHitter - his stuff was better than most of the AL closers I watched last year - what was the problem with it? With the fastball at 93-4 the changeup became a legitimate out pitch.
mikefast
11/16
Those pitch classifications from BIS aren't the greatest for Benoit. They're missing his cutter completely in 2007, which makes his overall fastball speed in 2007 look slower than it really was. They have a similar problem with their 2008 data for Benoit, although his pitch types changed a bit from 2007 to 2008.
stinkystan01
11/17
Twins should spend whatever money is budgeted toward Jesse Crain on this guy.
jjbehr
11/17
Looks as if the Tigers are nearing a three-year deal with Benoit. Thoughts?
donwinningham
11/17
3yrs/$16.5m. Yowza.
jjbehr
11/17
Similar to the Astros three-year, $15.0 million dollar deal with Brandon Lyon.
collins
11/18
Brandon Lyon was exactly who came to mind when I heard the years and money for the Benoit contract. wow
jjbehr
11/18
Great minds think alike, John.
Michael
11/17
I'd guess the projection systems would tell us the Tigers overpaid because pitchers with such a spotty track record (in terms of both health and effectiveness) don't usually change permanently. Just because he was so effective in 2010 doesn't mean on average we should expect him to be close to that in 2011, 2012 and 2013. Subjectively as a Tiger fan, I'm not that disappointed. At least we didn't overpay for past saves. He throws hard and was really really good in 2010. Let's not buy too many middle relievers as opposed to growing our own though.
ScottBehson
11/17
3 years for anyone other than THE BEST NO BRAINER relief pitchers is a bad move. RPs are just too variable from year to year.
singledigit
11/18
As a Tiger fan, I like the deal. There's great upside, if he has at least one or two seasons anywhere near his '10 season. The downside? There really isn't one. This contract won't keep Dumbrowski from signing anyone else. If Benoit doesn't perform, it's not like this contract will hamstring the Tiger budget. This signing moves Perry and Schlereth to the 7th inning. If somehow Zumaya comes back, the Tigers 'pen could really be something.
Michael
11/18
I think this post indicates why Tiger fans aren't objecting to the signing: it's unclear what the opportunity cost was. The Tigers gave up nothing in trade and no draft picks and it's hard to say exactly how much overpaying a very capable reliever will cost them. Probably Schlereth becomes their top lefty, so he'll still be pitching occasionally in the eighth inning, with Phil Coke slated to try to move into the starting rotation.