Nationals Baseball: Monday special - Why Benoit?

Monday, February 19, 2018

Monday special - Why Benoit?

Joaquin Benoit was signed by the Nats today (Hate the passive voice? Too bad!) in what was almost certainly a reaction to Koda Glover's shoulder injury.  We had mentioned the Nats could possibly use one more relief arm for depth but Glover's pains forced the issue.

What some are asking is - why Benoit? Why a 40 year old who posted a pretty deserved ~4.50 ERA last year? Simply put there wasn't much available.

Greg Holland is the obvious best guy, he had an All-Star 2017 and if not back to his old dominating self, he showed himself to be a very good arm in the pen.  Some might be turned off by a bad second half but it was more one horrific month (13.50 ERA in August) than anything else. His September was as good (1.86 ERA) and the other months of the year (1.50 April, 1.17 May, 1.69 June, 2.25 July). He's likely fine. But that also means he's expensive.

After him the FA market has been picked clean.  A couple weeks ago I noted Matt Albers might be the third best arm left after Holland and Tony Watson. Well Albers got signed soon after that and Watson just got signed by the Giants a few days ago. What are we left with? Well here are some guys still available, a few I'd probably pick-up before Benoit

The non retreads
Koji Uehara - He's 42 and not trending in the right direction but his stats (10.5 K/99, 2.5 BB/9, 1.163 WHIP) are still good. He's probably picking and choosing where at this age so maybe DC and/or the money wasn't appealing?  Still better than Benoit

Kevin Siegrist -  He put up two pretty good years for the Cardinals in relief in 2015 and 2016 before being bad and having them release him mid-year last year. The Phillies picked him up and he was again pretty good.  A little long ball prone and wild. Certainly more interesting than Benoit if not better.

Robbie Ross - an injury victim who had back surgery last year. That kind of lack of security probably crosses him off the Nats list. However, if healthy had good 2015 and 2016s and is young enough to assume he'd do it again.

The retreads
Matt Belisle - Matt Belisle was good for the Nats.  Matt Belisle is good now.  No he doesn't knock anyone's socks off but he keep the ball in the park and isn't bad at giving up walks or hits so he tends to get the job done.  I certainly like him better than Benoit but the Nats chose to move on for some reason.

Tyler Clippard - The greatest middle reliever of his generation had an awful 2017 and hasn't been really good since getting traded from Oakland. Still he was effective enough in 2016, and can strike a guy out enough, to think the 33 year old isn't done yet.

Drew Storen - Hey! I'm being thorough! You know the drill - he's probably a head case. When handed a closer role or set in a relief role he can excel. See most of his time in DC and his stinit in Seattle. When thinking he has to fight for anything he falters. See the Soriano year, his loss to Osuna in Toronto, his loss to Iglesias in Cincy.  He'd probably expect to fight for a closer among the Nats good but not great bunch so I wouldn't bring him back here. But for a team with a #1 obviously set I'd take a flier on Drew.

So I'd take all but Ross, because the Nats need security, and Drew before Benoit. I know some of you don't like Clippard so you'd pass on him too. Fair enough. But what you see here is a bunch of guys who are nothing special. Better than the average call-up arm, but not so much better you have to go out and grab them.  Picking Benoit over them isn't than big a stretch, if one at all. The issue isn't picking up Benoit now. It's going into the season with Glover maybe hurt, Kelley maybe hurt, and thinking you didn't need to pick up someone before now.  

Oh well, let's hope for health because 4th in line isn't important until it becomes 2nd in line.


blovy8 said...

Still could work out if they get a fifth starter and Cole is the long man. It’s just a million.

blovy8 said...

Looks like it was just homers and a couple more walks. Bad luck with runners perhaps. Velocity and other stuff seems stable, especially for a guy that old.

Harper said...

Yeah - the above post sounds too negative. Basically you are looking for someone cheap and not terrible to throw 50-60 IP. Benoit can do that. Ideally I'd like the Nats to be 4-5 deep in the pen with arms they like because eventually they'll be 2-3 deep after injury. They are 4 and Benoit is a good enough 5 I guess.

KW said...

I don't see the Nats ponying up for Holland, even on a "pillow" contract. He'll still cost a fair amount, there's no obvious need with Kintzler/Madson/Doolittle in tact, and, most significantly, Holland is tagged with a qualifying offer. The Nats would lose 2d and 5th-round picks and $1M in international bonus money.

If the Nats are willing to spend Holland-level money, I'd rather it go to Lynn or Cobb, although of them have qualifying offers as well, as does Arrieta. The next tier of starters is pretty much gone, so beyond those guys, you're down to Lackey, Volquez, Cahill, Nolasco, et al.

I don't think the Nats need another mid-level reliever. I do think they probably would have been more aggressive with Albers if they knew the extinct of Glover's situation. Benoit won't cost them much if he doesn't make the team, even though he's on an MLB deal. I'd rather see Cole in Glover's bullpen slot than as a starter. Cole, Grace, Solis, and Romero are all out of options, so there are going to be some tough decisions there regardless. They've also got Austin Adams, Tim Collins, Trevor Gott, and Wander Suero somewhat in the mix. Maybe Lilliquist can find the missing secret to Adams' control problems. He had an awesome 13.9 K/9 at Syracuse if he can manage to find the plate.

Dan said...

Even with this move done, I'd give Holland a lowball, short-term offer, which I'm sure he's getting from others. Doubtful, but maybe he'd choose the Nats because of their chance to win.

I'd take a look at Clippard. It's partly sentimentality, but only partly. The guy could not have forgotten how to pitch and he's only 33. Maybe he'd take a minor league deal at this point and maybe his arm has 60 more good innings left in it.

Jay said...

I'd go after Arrieta imo. Looks like the Phils may get him though from what I've seen on the interwebs and the tweeter. If Strasburg goes down for a month like last year, then the rotation looks very blah to me. As far as the bullpen, don't count out Bryan Harper. He was steadily moving up the system before he hurt his arm. I've never been a Benoit fan. He's ok. Also, at what point do we no longer count on Glover at all??

PotomacFan said...

@Jay: I think we are already at the point where we don't count on Glover to ever fully recover. It's too bad, but it happens.

@kw: Trevor Gott is useless. SO/9 = 5.7. That's not going to cut it in the Major Leagues unless he is the best ground ball pitcher in history. And he isn't. Not even close.

@kw: Agree that Nats would have made a stronger run at Albers if they knew that Glover was out for the year. Even then, I'm not sure the Nats were ever going to give Albers two years.

Hey, maybe Wieters can pitch. He hits like a pitcher. And the Nats have a good record with guys coming back from TJ surgery.

blovy8 said...

At a certain point, though wouldn't you think some of the cited relievers, like Belisle and Clippard, would have to take a major/minor-league split deal? If that's the case, the Nats are as good a team to sign on with as any since they have experience with the franchise and a clear path to making the roster probably even easier than Albers did last year.

Benoit is coming off a pretty hefty 7.5 million deal, even given his crappy year, this market remains pretty tough.

KW said...

By the way, I meant to point out that Storen had a TJ in September and likely is out for all of 2018.

PotomacFan, I'm not holding my breath on Gott, but he's still only 25 (just over half a year older than Glover). He had a pretty effective half season with the Angels at age 22 in 2015 and looked like a decent return for Danny the K. He's struggled with injuries during both seasons with the Nats but did have an 8.44 K/9 at Syracuse last year, as well as a 3.28 FIP. I'm not sure whether he has an option left, though.

KW said...

Err, Gott came for Escobar; Adams came for Danny the K.

Ric said...

@PotomacFan said, "Hey, maybe Wieters can pitch. He hits like a pitcher."

This was oh so wrong. And oh so funny.

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