Multiple outlets are reporting that Detroit has signed reliever Joaquin Benoit to a three-year deal worth $16.5 million. He could also earn an additional $1 million per season in incentives.
Benoit, 33, was one of the best set-up men in baseball this year for the Tampa Bay Rays, after missing all of the 2009 season recovering from surgery to repair a torn labrum. He compiled a 1.34 ERA in 63 appearances and struck out 75 batters in 60 1/3 innings. Benoit was also a Type B free agent, which means the Tigers do not have to give up a draft pick for signing him. (The Rays will receive a compensatory pick between the first and second rounds of next year’s draft for losing Benoit.)
The Tigers made it known before the season ended that they’d pursue free agent relievers to bolster their bullpen. Between Joel Zumaya’s injury, Ryan Perry’s development and Phil Coke’s planned move to the starting rotation, acquiring a top-notch set-up man in front of closer Jose Valverde was a key move of the offseason.
According to MLB Trade Rumors, Benoit's contract is the largest given to a non-closer since the White Sox signed Scott Linebrink to a three-year, $19 million deal in 2007.