Phillies Expected to Sign Joaquin Benoit

UPDATE: According to Matt Gelb, the deal is worth $7.5 million.

According to Jim Salisbury, the Phillies have reached an agreement with right-handed reliever Joaquin Benoit, pending a physical. Benoit split last season almost evenly between the Mariners and the Blue Jays. He was terrible in Seattle and amazing in Toronto, and the main culprit (as these things usually go) was an increased walk rate and home run rate in Seattle. Taken as a whole, his last season was not very different from his prior seasons, once you account for his advanced age. I think it would be unwise to expect better than the 2.81 ERA he posted over 48 innings in 2017.

The exact amount Benoit will be paid in 2017 has not yet been announced, but he had his $7.8 million team option declined by the Blue Jays, so it’s safe to assume he’ll make something less than that in his one-year deal with the Phillies.

Since becoming a full-time reliever in 2006, Benoit has thrown 633.2 innings with a 2.95 ERA with 26.8 K% and a 9.1 BB%. Those are excellent numbers and could immediately make Benoit the best reliever on the Phillies. However, age, injury, and the home run ball could conspire to sap his effectiveness. In those past 11 seasons, Benoit twice allowed more than 1.0 home run per 9 innings. In both seasons, he was a replacement-level reliever. He also ended last season on the DL with a torn calf, and he’ll be 40 years old in July. For that reason, it’s possible that Benoit fails his physical.

Aside from an 80-grade name, Benoit brings a mid-nineties fastball, a slider that sits around 86 MPH, and a changeup that averages 84. He relies heavily on his fastball, using it about 55% of the time last year, mixed with 26% changeups and 18% sliders. He also threw a handful of curveballs. In his more effective time with the Blue Jays, Benoit used more sliders and fewer changeups, so perhaps we should expect that to continue into next season.

Whether or not Benoit is effective next season, he should at least provide guidance and set a good example for the young players on the Phillies roster, and it seems like that’s been a priority of the Phillies management this offseason. Of the players on the Phillies 40-man roster, the ten relievers likely to pitch this year have tallied a combined 703 games and just over 1000 innings in their careers. Benoit has eclipsed those totals by himself, and he and the recently acquired Pat Neshek (from the Astros) have themselves combined for 1135 games and 1401.2 innings pitched in their long careers.

The elder duo has also combined to pitch 32.2 postseason innings over 33 games, while the rest of the Phillies possible relievers have pitched four innings in just one postseason game (Jeanmar Gomez in 2013 for the Pirates). This could also make the relievers valuable to a playoff contender near the trade deadline if they start the season strong. While those two moves don’t figure to move the needle much on the Phillies’ overall talent this year, they have bolstered an area of weakness and youth for the young team for only about $10-15 million combined and for just one year. For a team capable of sustaining a high payroll, that seems like a good investment.

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  1. Bubba0101

    December 05, 2016 01:54 PM

    Im kind of tired of these types of deals. Sure theyre smart and wise and could help in unquantifiable ways but theyre so boring and indicate that we just dont plan to compete much this year. We are still looking at bullpen pieces that may be able to be flipped for a low level high ceiling prospect that will almost certainly not make any impact on the big league club. Forgive my pessimism… Im sick of the last 4 (6?) years in phila sports already. Hopefully next season we make a big splash or two and actually field a team competitive enough to be pushing for the playoffs. Until then, its Neshak and Benoit signings…

    • Michael Schickling

      December 05, 2016 02:23 PM

      The only signings the Phillies made before the 2008 season were Geoff Jenkins, Pedro Feliz, and relievers, and they won the World Series. Granted, they also traded for Brad Lidge, but he was coming off two consecutive seasons worse than Joaquin Benoit’s last two seasons.

      No one is picking the Phillies to be World Series contenders next year, but sometimes the best way to improve the team is to stay the course and make incremental improvements where you can.

      • Bubba0101

        December 05, 2016 08:13 PM

        Yeah I get it. If we were making these signings in 2019 when our prospects all had two+ years under their belt then the 2008 team would be a relevant comparison

    • Eddie

      December 05, 2016 05:13 PM

      We’ve known since about 2014 that there wasn’t much chance the 2017 team would be competitive. Last year the players to watch were mostly in AA or AAA. This year, most of the players to watch will be arriving midseason.

      Don’t be that guy that gets angry every time your sports team brings in roster filler. You look silly and it gives you heartburn.

      • Bubba0101

        December 05, 2016 08:10 PM

        I’m not angry. I just wish it didn’t have to be this way. I 100% understand why it is this way.

    • Carmen

      December 05, 2016 09:29 PM

      If Monty were still around we’d trade for old Dale Murphy to keep certain fans from grumbling.

      • Michael Schickling

        December 06, 2016 10:36 AM


        If you don’ t like the 2008 Phillies comparison, how about a 2014 Cubs comparison. Coming off a 4th consecutive losing season, after completely tearing down their team (sound familiar?), this is what MLBTraderumors said about their offseason:

        The Cubs added flippable veteran arms, assembled a center field platoon, and brought in a new backup catcher.

        They spent just $16 million on free agents in the interest of letting their young players develop and keeping seats open for their top prospects. Again, I’m not trying to say the Phillies will win the World Series in a couple years, but signing someone because “it would be less boring” is exactly why teams like the Padres or Diamondbacks are where they are.

      • Bubba0101

        December 06, 2016 01:34 PM

        I love the 2014 Cubs comparison. They were one year away from being on the map in 2015 and 2 years away from winning the WS. Now are the 2017 phillies one year away from making the playoffs? Ive been saying on this site that the Phillies will compete for the WC in 2017, and I still wholeheartedly believe that. They played better for 2/3 of last year than anyone ever thought they would have. I just wish that it were this offseason that we were in the running for Cespedes or in talks to trade for Sale. Dont get me wrong, I dont want Cespedes as a FA or Sale in a trade because that is not the direction of the team right now so its just hyperbole. The Benoit (and Neshak) signing signals that this isnt the year we think we can seriously contend. I hope that we are on a Cubs-like path and that 2018 is the year people take the Phillies seriously as a long term contender.

  2. Kevin

    December 05, 2016 04:32 PM

    I totally agree with Bubba, though Michael’s point is valid as well.

    Bubba’s note reminds me of many years past, where we’d always see real difference-makers signed by other teams, and the Phillies would add a bench-quality play at a position where they already had a bench-quality player in the lineup. As if having three mediocre 3Bs somehow equalled having 1 great 3B.

    Many of those moves seemed like they weren’t bad signings on a cost vs. value basis, but when you fill up your whole roster with replacement-level players, you don’t have room for anyone else. And as Bubba says, the best you can hope is that you’ll flip them for prospects mid-season, but you’re not going to get high-ceiling prospects – the best you’re likely to get is bench-quality players. At some point you actually need starters

    So, they’re still in the “let’s tread water until hopefully our farm system bears fruit” mode. I don’t think there’s really any other mode they can be in right now. They’re not 1 player away from being a true contender, they’re 1 team away from being a real contender.

    • Jerry Spradlin

      December 05, 2016 04:58 PM

      I understand the frustration, but we have to be realistic. Last season was a step in the right direction- an overdue step, for sure, but at least they started the rebuild.

      Even though it was a step in the right direction, we’re faced with two realities- first, the Phillies are several players away from being a playoff- contending team, and you can’t add several players through free agency. The second reality is even if they were a player or two away, this free agent class is too weak to get them what they need.

      It’s not easy to re-build, but Klentak is doing things right. A year from now they’ll have a group of young players a year closer to the big leagues , and tons of cash to supplement those players with some free agents.

    • Carmen

      December 05, 2016 09:32 PM

      Think I prefer what Klentak is doing v. what the Braves are doing in order to sell their fans on the new stadium.

      • Romus

        December 06, 2016 10:14 AM

        Carmen……Coppollela has a loaded farm system from the AA level down.
        So loaded that they are ranked in the top three/four in all publications across the board.
        Throw in Swanson already there at short and they have fairly good pieces pointed to the future.
        So he has the luxury to sign RA Dickey, Bartolo, et al to one or two year contracts while their best pitchers get experienced in the minors.
        And these older guys may get the fan base excited…if that is possible down in Atlanta.

    • Bill

      December 07, 2016 04:38 PM

      Wes Helms is officially insulted by your 3B comment and demands a retraction.

  3. Major Malfunction

    December 06, 2016 01:48 PM

    Not a great signing, but certainly reasonable given the expectations for the coming year.

    Shit could be WAY worse. To be nostalgic, we could be celebrating the wonderful acquisitions of Ty Wigginton, Grady Sizemore, Yuniesky Betancourt, Delmon Young, Tony Gwynn Jr, Jason Nix, etc. The list is just packed with a whole lot of players who simply weren’t going to have anything but a negative WAR.

    The future is still looking good even if the best signing this offseason was a reliever with a career 17 WAR after 15 seasons 🙂

  4. Dave

    December 06, 2016 02:40 PM

    I really like the Benoit signing. RPs are the most fungible assets, and the most easily traded / heavily desired at the dealine.

    True, its boring not being in the hunt for the big splash signings… but our day is coming…. and yeah, hopefully when there are better FAs available.

    I’d like to see 3 more “small” signings/pickups.

    I’d like to see them re-sign AJ Ellis. If they can’t, I’d prefer some older guy (Chooch again?) to backup Rupp. Alfaro to get fulltime work in AAA.

    Wouldn’t mind if they could pickup an unexpected bargain or pillow contract guy at the end of the FA period. I loved the Kendrick signing. I feel like one more “professional” bat (that could play corner OF) would provide more structure to the lineup, without blocking young guys. Seeing young guys develop is what we need to do, but too many times last year, our entire lineup seemed completely overmatched. I don’t want a repeat of that.

    Also wouldn’t mind if another older starting pitcher was added. Even just a reclamation project. I know that Charlie Morton didn’t work out, but I thought that was a good idea anyway. Would like to see them take another shot at that (Tyson Ross?).

    • Bubba0101

      December 06, 2016 06:03 PM

      Tyson Ross would move the needle…

      • Dave

        December 07, 2016 03:53 PM

        Tyson Ross would only cost money… which the Phils should have in abundance. He seems like he’s set to return to SD at a reduced salary (less than the $9.6M he was likely slated to get prior to being non-tendered). Apparently he has a good relationship with his coach ing staff, and wants to keep that? If I’m the Phillies though, I at least check in to see if he’d be willing to sign for more here.

        Maybe go after Shelby Miller? AZ seems to be on the hunt for a potential starting catcher. Which happens to be one position where the Phils are deep. I’m guessing Arizona is gonna want a lot more than a catcher though. They’ll want to save face for the Dansby Swanson trade fiasco. But at least give it a look see.

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