Another Reliever Rumor: Cubs May Be in on Joaquin Benoit

joaquin benoit tigersMost of the reliever names we’ve heard connected to the Cubs thus far have been of the buy low, offer an opportunity to close variety (with the exception of Edward Mujica). The Cubs are, however, now connected to one of the bigger relief names on the market.

Jeff Passan hears from sources that there’s a belief that Joaquin Benoit will ultimately wind up with the Cubs, Indians, Padres, Mariners or Yankees. That’s quite a bit of competition, but I suspect there wouldn’t be a belief out there that the Cubs would get Benoit if they weren’t talking to him.

Cost aside for a moment, Benoit makes sense for the Cubs. Coming off of a four-year post-surgery stretch where he’s put up a 2.53 ERA over 259.1 innings, Benoit was a part-time closer for the Tigers in 2013. He is presumably looking for a place to keep closing, and he might find that in Chicago. Indeed, the Cubs are probably hoping the clear path to closing is an incentive for the 36-year-old to sign on with a rebuilding club, but he might have that same opportunity in Cleveland or Seattle, at least.

Although Benoit was superficially down in 2012, it seems like an unsustainably high HR/FB rate bit him a bit, and predictably regressed in 2013, leaving him with another dominant season. Benoit’s FIP over the last four seasons: 2.43, 2.96, 4.26, 2.87. His strikeout rate remained a loft 27.6% in 2013. The only thing that makes you a little nervous is the uptick in his walk rate over the last four years, from 5.1% in 2010 to 7.1% in 2011, 7.6% in 2012, and 8.1%

Benoit made $5.5 million per year in his three years in Detroit, and there’s no reason to think he’s going to take much of a discount given his effectiveness. I’d think two years and $12 million would be the bare minimum, with three years and $20 million being the hilarious height of what he could get.

If the Cubs could get Benoit on a two-year deal, even at $6 or $7 million per year, it seems like a very good risk for what could become a nice piece to have at the Trade Deadline. I know, folks hate to hear that, but a 36-year-old, short-term, expensive closer isn’t exactly coming aboard to be a part of the next championship team. He’d be an asset, and one of the few marketable ones the Cubs could have by midseason. Is it too much to pay for a late-inning arm? Eh. Maybe. But if the Cubs aren’t going to spend big this offseason to put a playoff contender on the field, they might as well spend on the kinds of assets that can be spun off for long-term pieces later in the year.

In the end, I don’t like the Cubs’ chances of landing Benoit, short of an over-the-top bid. He’s going to have a host of options, and, given the exploding price tags for these kinds of short-term investments, the bidding might get whacky. The Cubs may find it better to try and reclaim value in a lower-cost arm – like a John Axford – whom they can insert into the closer’s role.

That all said, it’s still nice to hear the Cubs mentioned in connection to one of the top tier free agents, even if it’s just a bullpen arm.

UPDATE: Buster Olney says Benoit is looking for $7 to $10 million annually. I don’t think he’s going to get the upper end of that, which what “proven closers” are getting in this market. Two years and $14 million sounds about right for Benoit. If he can do better, then he should do it elsewhere.

Brett Taylor is the editor and lead writer at Bleacher Nation, and can also be found as Bleacher Nation on Twitter and on Facebook.

66 responses to “Another Reliever Rumor: Cubs May Be in on Joaquin Benoit”

  1. Die hard

    No decent closer will come as will be few games to close–to close requires game to be close

    1. Senor Cub

      “No decent closer will come as will be few games to close–to close requires game to be close”
      Now that’s the defeatist attitude everyone loves…Just give up before you even try!

      I would actually think the exact opposite, I don’t have the stats in front of me but I would think that the Cubs lost plenty of 1-2 run games last year and they certainly blew quite a bit of saves. I would think that most of the Cubs Wins would also be by 1-2 runs therefore increasing anyone’s chances of closing games.

      1. X The Cubs Fan

        Kevin Gregg got 30+ saves last year.

        1. DocPeter Wimsey

          This is the single most damning indictment of the save statistic ev… Well, in 12 months at least.

    2. wilbur

      so are you saying instead of a closer, with an oh sound, the cubs should get a closer, as in closer to winning? wanna buy a duck?

  2. Senor Cub

    “Benoit was a part-time closer for the Tigers in 2013″

    His stats look solid, any idea of why he wouldn’t be considered in Detroit for the closer role? It seems they’ve been looking for a true closer for some time. Why would they let him walk?

    1. DocPeter Wimsey

      Because the search for a true closer makes Diogenes’ quest look easy?

  3. Cubfan Budman

    Detroit signed Joe Nathan to close

  4. Cubfan Budman

    “Nathan agreed with Detroit on a two-year contract with a club option for 2016, enabling the Tigers to accomplish one of their main objectives this off-season by adding one of the game’s most accomplished closers to the bullpen. The three-time defending AL Central champions announced the deal Wednesday, two days after trading right-handed starter Doug Fister to Washington. Terms were not disclosed.”

    ” Detroit went into last season without a set closer, and after the Tigers brought Jose Valverde back and that didn’t work, they went with Benoit. He finished the season with 24 saves in 26 chances, but in Game 2 of the AL championship series, he allowed a tying grand slam by Boston’s David Ortiz that was a turning point in the series.”

  5. Chad

    Just read that the Marlins and Astros swapped first round draft picks in a trade of a player I have never heard of. If you are the astros why would you do that? and why didn’t the cubs think of that!

  6. Reality Check

    why would we waste money on a 36 yr old? so pedro strop again does not get a chance to close like last year when the FO did not move gregg by the trade deadline. the 2014 team is not going to be good; so let’s ensure a high pick with bad closers like strop or rondon or maybe one of them does a decent job and we get value for the feldman trade or the rule 5 player carried all year. if your gonna go all in with losing on purpose; then go all in.

    1. commander bob

      No hitting. No defense and no pitching. Lets go get a 36 year old guy who is not a closer to close.

      Where’s Marmol when you need him?

    2. hansman

      Do I t sign big name players, Bitch and moan
      Pursue middle name players, bitch and moan.

      Good god, negative nancies are managing to destroy the cokmments section on here with a whole lotta nothing.

      1. MichiganGoat

        And your hamburger greased fingers are ruining spelling. ;) rabble rabble rabble hamburgers for all!

      2. CubFan Paul

        “Good god, negative nancies are managing to destroy the cokmments section”

        It’s Year 3 of the rebuild and all signs point to the major league squad not improving again (getting younger, but no additions of in-prime free agents who have been available (again))

        1. MichiganGoat

          Yeah stupid cokmments.

          1. Mike Feeney

            But it’s YEAR 3!!! And all rebuilds, no matter the team, are known to follow an exact linear structure. YEAR 3 dammit!!! Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

            1. mister_rob

              Year 3 and the 40 man roster is worse than it was 3 years ago

              1. Mike Feeney

                Is it though? Silva, Wells, Gorzelanny, Caridad, Berg, Atkins, Maine, Hill, Hoffpauir, Fontenot, Theriot, Scales, Tracy, Colvin, Fuld, Snyder.

                Those were all guys on the 2010 Chicago Cubs. Top end talent was better, although that is likely to change in the coming year or so, but overall that wasn’t a strong team in terms of depth in the organization. That’s changing. Slowly. Which sucks. But if the front office could change it faster I am sure they would.

                1. CubFan Paul

                  You did the wrong year

                  1. Mike Feeney

                    I mean I can double check the math but I am sure 3 years ago was 2010. At least for a few more days.

                    1. CubFan Paul

                      Theo had no control of the 2010 roster. ‘this year’ is 2014 so 3yrs ago would be the 2011 roster (the roster Theo inherited)

      3. DarthHater

        I became a bit more serene after I resigned myself to the fact that the idea of anything “destroying” the comment section is a false one. It just is what it is.

        1. MichiganGoat

          I blame the dark side.

        2. hansman

          Isnt that what you said before the death star got blowed up

      4. MichiganGoat

        Somewhere somehow cokmments should be added to the BN lexicon:
        Cokmments: comments coming from a … nevermind.

      5. Rebuilding

        Comments like this are doing just as much to make the atmosphere toxic. It’s just positive trolling instead of negative. Any thoughts on why you like Benoit for 2/20 or are you and Goat just going to do your act today?

        1. Rebuilding

          2/12

        2. hansman

          I have no thoughts on Benoit. I like that the front office is working to upgrade the bullpen but it gets old hearing the rabble come from the same people

      6. hansman

        Don’t sign

        Damn phone

    3. South&Wave

      Well, Colon is 40 and just finished 6th in the AL Cy Young last year with a sub-3 ERA. Does that mean the Mets “wasted their money on a 40 year old?”

      1. MichiganGoat

        Very likely YES!

  7. Old style 77

    Logan Morrison and Corey Hart to Mariners. MLB network this morning.

  8. Mike F

    Fascinating stuff the more Theo talks. Clearly everything is on hold, and more than anyone he knows why. Ricketts ultimately is to blame, no way to escape, but Theo is a smart smart man and I know the weak minded will rail, but in the PM’s piece on CSN Theo has slyly and purposely thrown the genesis of the problem, Crane Kenney under the bus. Crane Kenney is definition of entitled eastern incompetence with no clear redeeming value except to kiss who ever he works for ass. If Ricketts ever wants to be a real owner and Cub hero the first step is to fire Kenney and hire someone who is competent. What a colossal C….. F bomb…….

    1. Spriggs

      As soon as I read that the Cubs might be in on Benoit, that’s what I thought too. That dang Notre Dame eastern Crane Kenney guy must be at it again.

  9. Rebuilding

    Benoit would be fine to close and hold as a chip, but I wouldn’t go past 1 year. If that old, surgically repaired arm blows up I would hate to be paying him $7 mil in 2015. I would go above his market for one year and give him the chance to close (he’s likely not to get that elsewhere)

  10. woody

    Seriously I doubt if Benoit signs with the cubs. I am curious about the trade offer that was made. Supposedly doesn’t involve Shark. I doubt it is Castro. I would have to believe it would be Schierholtz or Barney. But to whom and for what, we may never know.

  11. JohnT.

    Unless the Cubs are going to be competing for a division title, I would much rather use this season to see if one of the internal options could be a closer. Why spend 6 million on a luxury?

  12. ssckelley

    I am sure diehard is getting the scoop on this.

    1. Die hard

      I am on it

      1. Fishin Phil

        We’re counting on you!

      2. ssckelley

        report back as soon as you hear something!

        Thanks in advance.

  13. Blackhawks1963

    Benoit is seemingly looking for the fattest payday he can get, period. Lets see how that pans out with the Cubs. Adding a 36 year old closer who has a few red flags doesn’t excite me. To be honest, I hope somebody outbids the Cubs for his services.

    Looks like the Stoeren and Clippard rumors have died down seeing how Washington acquired a lefty reliever. Would have liked one of those guys.

    Safe to say that Samardzija is sticking with the Cubs to begin 2014. The trade market hasn’t materialized in terms of the fleecing Theo and Jed were hoping could happen.

    Next big pitching shoe to drop should be Garza. Bet he ends up with the Yankees, especially since they can’t wait around forever for Tanaka to get posted.

    Not hearing anything more about our donation to the Scott Baker Charity Fund. Crossing my fingers Baker gets signed elsewhere and we don’t have to waste another season on a 89 MPH throwing reclamation project we already pissed away $5.5 million.

    Cubs MUST add another outfielder. Not expecting anything fancy, but I wonder what the options are to go with Schierholz, Lake, Sweeney, Bogusevic. I would presume TheoJed are looking at a right-handed option of some sort.

  14. since52

    I get a kick out of the die hards here talking about how good the Cubs were defensively LAST YEAR. News flash. It’s now THIS YEAR. You know, last year’s wait until next year. Yes, I know, hope springs eternal, except last year’s 2b and RF will be gone, last year’s 3b will be this year’s 2b, and last year’s SS is still this year’s SS, complete with lousy defensive instincts.
    Oh and by the way, this year’s 3b is TBD and last year’s most improved defensive player is still on the payroll, albeit as a DH in NY. Not to worry. Last year’s go to defensive coach is now in AZ.

    Just keep diggin the flippin while you sippin the kool-aid.

    1. bbmoney

      You have to be more clear. Are you talking about “die hards” or the “diehard”.

      1. since52

        take your pick. I like the one where Bruce dives off the building with the fire hose.

  15. Sect209row15

    The SunTimes looks like the Enquirer and Gordons bromance article about Boras is really getting to me. This is the only thing he can come up with? “Boras tears down the rebuild”. This guy spends four days at Disney and rehashes month old comments.

    1. CubFan Paul

      “This is the only thing he can come up with? “Boras tears down the rebuild””

      No, in that same piece Wittenmeyer included:

      *Worse yet, the caps took effect at a time the industry was growing past $8 billion in revenues, with each team getting more than ~$20 million annually in additional revenue this winter~ as part of the new national TV deals*

  16. Voice of Reason

    I just don’t see the Cubs landing Benoit.

    If the Cubs come in at 2 years and $12 or $14 million I can certainly see another team that is trying to win next year matching that offer at the final hour. If the Cubs upped the ante, then it becomes harder, because of his price, for them to find a taker and flip him at the trade deadline.

    If I’m Benoit and it’s similar money, I’m going to a team that is ready to win now instead of the Cubs who are getting ready to win in two years.

  17. CubsFaninMS

    He won’t be joaquin on benoit-er… but I think this is a good move. We need some bright spots in our season and, although the bullpen is such a difficult thing to project, this move would solidify that area of team quite a bit.

    1. Voice of Reason

      If we signed Benoit it would be to flip him.

      A team that is destined to lose 95+ games in 2014 doesn’t need a veteran closer! He would be another chip to trade for prospects at the deadline.

      I’d much rather audition some young pitchers and see if they could be our closer when we’re ready to compete in a couple of years, but I totally understand why we would sign Benoit.

      1. CubsFaninMS

        I think you bring up some valid points, I’m just hoping to see some signs for a change that we’re moving from a “wipe the slate clean” kind of team (i.e. 2010-2013) to a team that flashes success in multiple key areas of the team. Last year, our only saving graces team-wide would be our starting pitching and home runs, the latter of which was pretty insignificant being that we weren’t producing runs effectively. If we could have a strong bullpen and at least two of our key players (Samardzija, Castro, Rizzo) have a breakout season while keeping our starting pitching pretty strong, we could be closer to .500 than we realize. As of now, I see our team as another 90-loss team and, admittedly, that is a little disappointing.

  18. Jacob Hamilton

    What leverage do the Cubs have (in signing Benoit) that they are likely to trade him to a contender mid-season? The Mariners and Indians are teams that appear to be going for it, and sticking with it in ’14, but may not succeed. Signing with the Cubs is practically a guarantee to be pitching with a contender mid-season, especially given the Cubs past knack for flipping flippable pieces.However, not sure the Cubs would use being traded as leverage in signing negotiations in the beginning of the year. Maybe an un-spoken understanding/assumption?

    1. Voice of Reason

      Just as the Mariners and Indians are expected to succeed and may not, there will be other teams that you don’t expect to be in the race that will be. That team might need a closer or a solid set up man. At $12 million over two years, teams in the hunt will trade for Benoit if he’s pitching well.

      When he signs the Cubs can be honest with him. They can tell him to pitch well and improve his value and then the Cubs will be able to move him to a contender. That gives him a chance to pitch and prove himself for a great team and the chance to truly regain his financial value in the league.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.