Saturday, December 21, 2013

Padres to Sign Joaquin Benoit

On December 3rd, the San Diego Padres dealt set-up man Luke Gregerson to the Oakland A's for outfielder Seth Smith. This trade caused an uproar among Padres fans who wanted a Josh Reddick-type hitter to plug into the middle of the line-up. To put it lightly, Smith is not that type of player. I was among those who were upset by the deal, expecting more and holding concerns about the back-end of the Padres bullpen, with Gregerson out of the picture. The move didn't make much sense, considering they did not have a lot of depth in the bullpen and most fans thought Gregerson was worth more. To appease the fanbase, the Padres made a big move to sign right-handed closer Joaquin Benoit to a 2-year contract worth 14 million dollars with a club option for a third season. 

Benoit will make 6 million dollars in 2014, and 8 million in 2015 with anoption for 2016 that includes a 1.5 million dollar buyout. Benoit will take Luke Gregerson's old role as the bridge to closer Huston Street. The 36-year old Joaquin Benoit has been one of the best relievers in the game over the last four seasons, posting a 2.53 ERA in almost 260 innings since the beginning of the 2010 season. He has a 2.82 ERA in 22.1 playoff innings, meaning he is a postseason performer and has experience in the playoffs, one thing that is lacking on the Padres roster. Benoit can close out games for the Padres if Street gets hurt as well, which has been a major problem over the last two seasons. The bottom line is that Benoit is an upgrade over Gregerson.

The real significance of the signing is that now the Padres have an 85 million dollar payroll, or the biggest payroll in San Diego Padres history (not including 8 million dollars still going to alterations to the ballpark this season). I think these owners are significantly better than the previous regime in spending money as well as interacting with the fanbase. The previous ownership group would have been projected to have a payroll of about 70-73 million dollars in 2014. This move certainly shows that San Diego is willing to open their wallet. I like this move quite a bit and it makes me excited to watch them play this season. With health, I could see this being a playoff team.

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