Jon Heyman reports that the Pittsburgh Pirates are one of three teams looking at San Diego Padres reliever Joaquin Benoit. He also says that the Pirates have been looking at Texas Rangers reliever Joakim Soria. This comes after we heard that the Pirates were looking at Huston Street, who was just traded to the Angels for a big return.
Heyman says that the Tigers and Indians are also interested in Benoit. He said the Tigers and Pirates have showed interest in Soria.
Benoit is due $8 M next year, and has an $8 M option in 2016, with a $1.5 M buyout. The option becomes guaranteed with 55 games finished in 2015. He makes $6 M this year, which means the Pirates would be picking up about $11.5 M guaranteed over 14 months by dealing for him.
Soria has a better contract, making $5.5 M this year, with a $7 M club option next year and an $0.5 M buyout. That option could increase by $1 M and the buyout could increase by $0.25 M if he has 55 games finished this year. He’s at 31, and probably wouldn’t reach that total, making the increase unlikely. He does have performance bonuses for games finished, with $100,000 each for 35 and 40 games finished, $200,000 each for 45 and 50, and $250,000 for 60. The Pirates would owe Soria a little less than $2 M this year, along with the buyout next year.
Based on what the Padres got for Street, I’m guessing they’d want a similar haul for Benoit. My opinion is the same as it was for Street. I don’t like the idea of paying a lot of money for relief pitching, or trading prospects. This is a case where you’d have to do both. That $11.5 M would probably pay for a year of Russell Martin, who would provide a much bigger impact than 14 months of Benoit.
Soria doesn’t come with the huge costs financially, but might cost a lot in prospects. The only way this type of deal made sense is if he came at a much lower price than Street. Considering his success as a closer this year, I’d be skeptical that this would happen.