Feb 15, 2010, 2:49 PM EDT
Tampa Bay made a nice low-cost pickup this afternoon, signing Joaquin Benoit to a minor-league contract with an invite to spring training.
It remains to be seen if Benoit can rediscover his old stuff after missing part of 2008 and all of 2009 following shoulder surgery, but prior to the injury he was a reliable setup man for the Rangers, posting a 3.80 ERA with 250 strikeouts versus just 205 hits allowed in 248.2 innings from 2005-2007.
As noted when news of his comeback first surfaced last week, during that three-year span the only relievers to toss 200-plus innings with a lower opponents’ batting average than Benoit were Joe Nathan, Francisco Rodriguez, Billy Wagner, J.J. Putz, Brian Fuentes, Scot Shields, Rafael Betancourt, and Mariano Rivera.
Rafael Soriano was acquired to be the Rays’ closer and his primary setup men figure to be J.P. Howell, Grant Balfour, and Dan Wheeler, but Benoit could provide some nice bullpen depth as a middle-relief option and the price was certainly right. Lots of injury prone guys in that mix, but if everyone stays healthy the Rays could be dominant in the late innings.
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