Joaquin Benoit received a three-year deal from the Tigers worth $16.5 million that will pay him $5.5 million each season over the next three years. There are also incentives in the deal that could pay him up to an additional $1 million in each year.
Benoit, 33, is excited to join the Tigers. “It’s a pleasure for me to join the organization [the Tigers] and I look forward to doing my best for them.”
Benoit was outstanding for Tampa in 2010 working as the club’s setup man. He went 1-2 with a 1.34 ERA in 63 games, throwing 60 1/3 innings. He also struck out 75 while walking just 11 batters as he posted a WHIP of just 0.68.
The Tigers knew they needed to move quickly according to Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski.
“We thought if we could make a solid signing early, we had a lot of meetings, had a feel of who might be available, the dollars we might need to spend, with our own players we were prepared to do that if the situation made sense. We identified early the areas we needed to be aggressive and we went out to do that.”
With the signing of Benoit, in addition to the Tigers current staff, the Tigers appear to be set in the bullpen right now. When asked about adding another reliever, possibly a left-hander, Dombrowski responded succinctly, “I wouldn’t say that’s our biggest priority at this time,” continuing, “We already have Daniel Schlereth that we like and we have Brad Thomas. We won’t be actively pursuing another left-hander at this point.”
Dombrowski however was mum about any further free agent signings. He would only describe their interest and optimism on signing other players as “hopeful, but you never know how these things go.”
The Tigers also announced that they added a half dozen players to the 40-man roster; left-handers Charles Furbush and Duane Below, right-handers Lester Oliveros, Brayan Villarreal, and Jose Ortega, and shortstop Cale Iorg.
There was quite a bit of surprise from the fan base that the Tigers were willing to take up a 40-man roster spot on Iorg, who has struggled at the plate the past two years. To that point, Dombrowski reiterated the Tigers faith and optimism in him.
“Iorg can run, has pop in his bat, and we think he has a legitimate chance to be a player. His bat will obviously be the key for him as he continues to progress. But given his ability as an athlete and his defense at shortstop, leaving him unprotected was not a chance we wanted to take.”
The Rule 5 draft happens each year at the tail end of the winter meetings. The winter meetings this year are slated for December 6th through December 9th in Lake Buena Vista, FL.