Padres Rumors: San Diego and Cleveland trying to land Joaquin Benoit

Stephen Dunn

Just when you thought the Padres offseason was a little boring, the team is now making a push for free agent Joaquin Benoit.

A day after the San Diego Padres traded away Anthony Bass to the Houston Astros for Rule 5 pick Patrick Schuster, the team is still testing the free agent and trade markets.  I wrote about their potential interest in Seattle Mariners' utility man Dustin Ackley.  Now, the Padres appear to be heavily involved in negotiations for free agent Joaquin Benoit.

Ken Rosenthal and Jon Morosi of Fox Sports have both reported the Padres and the Cleveland Indians have interest in Benoit.  Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports went a little further and broke down the potential money involved.  He says both the Indians and the Padres have made offers of two years, $14 million.  However, the Padres might have a third option year on the table.  It's not yet clear if that option would be a team, player, or mutual option.

If the details are accurate, Benoit will simply have to decide whether he wants to compete now or potentially get a third year in his deal.  San Diego could improve in 2014, but it's highly unlikely that they would compete for the division or even a play-off spot.  The Indians, on the other hand, made the postseason in 2013.  They should be able to continue their competitive streak.

If San Diego lands him, is Benoit worth the money?  An average annual value of $7 million might be a little steep for a 36-year-old reliever with a history of shoulder problems.  However, general manager Josh Byrnes specifically told reporters throughout the Winter Meetings that the team was interested in bullpen help.  Benoit would certainly provide that help - as long as he can stay healthy.

In 2013, amidst the Detroit Tigers' quest to find a suitable closer, Benoit served as both a set-up man and a closer.  Overall, he posted a 2.01 ERA in 66 appearances.  Benoit will be entering his 13th Major League season in 2014.  In his previous 12 years (he missed the entire 2009 season after shoulder surgery), Benoit is 44-35 with a 4.11 ERA.  He was a starter early in his career before being forced to the bullpen where he saw some success.  As a starter, Benoit has a career ERA of 6.06.  He has a more respectable career ERA of 3.17 as a reliever.

When the Padres won the National League West in 2005 and 2006, and when they competed in 2007 and 2010, the club had solid pitching - sometimes even dominant pitching.  Perhaps that's Byrnes' overall goal.  He has made some big acquisitions in terms of pitching during his time, but has he done so while neglecting the offense?  Potentially.  Many would agree that San Diego needs another bat, but it is looking less and less likely that such a deal will happen.

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