JOAQUIN BENOIT, RIGHT HANDED PITCHER
|Born: July 26, 1977
Signed: International Free Agent, 1996 (Rangers)
How Acquired: Trade (with Phillies, with cash, for Seth McGarry)
Country: Dominican Republic
WTM’S PLAYER PROFILE
|Benoit has had a long career that didn’t take off until he was 29. He moved from starting to relief two years earlier. After missing 2009 due to rotator cuff survery, Benoit started on a very strong run of seasons that ran from 2010 to 2015. He’s generally had high K rates and, at times, high walk rates. He’s also had gopher ball problems periodically, which isn’t completely surprising as he’s a flyball pitcher. For his career, Benoit’s platoon split has been limited. He’s thrown his fastball in the 94-95 range for many years, with little variance. He also throws a lot of sliders and even more changeups. Benoit throws a “vulcan” change, an unusual pitch that’s gripped like a splitter. The Pirates acquired him at the trade deadline in 2017.
Benoit pitched well in ten starts in rookie ball, with good control.
The Rangers jumped Benoit up to full-season ball and he continued to pitch well, probably better than the ERA showed. He made 15 starts, as a strained elbow cost him some time.
Benoit again missed some time with injuries, but made 22 starts. He started having control problems and got hit much harder than previously.
Benoit missed more time with nagging injuries, but pitched much better than the previous year.
Benoit saw a sudden increase in his K rate and went from AA to the majors, although he didn’t dominate in the minors. In fact, he also had a dramatic increase in his walk rate in AAA. He made one spot start for the Rangers in August.
Benoit made scattered spot starts for the Rangers throughout the first two-thirds of the season, then came up to stay at the end of July. While in AAA, he pitched well, greatly reducing the walks. He struggled to throw strikes in the majors.
Benoit spent most of the season with Texas, making 17 starts and eight relief appearances. He improved his control but had serious gopher ball problems with the Rangers, allowing 23, or more than two per nine innings.
With Benoit out of options, the Rangers kept him in the majors but used him a little sparingly. He appeared in 28 games, 15 of them starts. His walk and K rates were good, but he continued to have gopher ball problems, allowing 19.
Benoit missed April with sore right shoulder, then missed much of June with right elbow tendonitis. Apart from rehabs, he spent the rest of the season with the Rangers. Of 32 games, he started nine. Overall, he made considerable progress, cutting the longballs to nine.
The Rangers used Benoit entirely in relief. He saw an increase in his K rate, but also had control problems. He pitched a little better than his ERA indicates, as he had a low strand rate of 59%.
Benoit had his first big season, appearing in 70 games and putting up good numbers across the board.
Benoit had a much more difficult season, which included missing a month starting in early July with right shoulder inflammation. He had a very rough month of June, so it’s possible the struggles were partly injury-related.
Benoit missed the entire season due to rotator cuff surgery. He became a free agent afterward and signed a minor league deal with Tampa Bay.
The Rays called Benoit up in April and he had a big year for them, in fact his best ever. After the season he signed a three-year, free agent contract with Detroit.
Benoit continued pitching very well for the Tigers.
Benoit pitched much the way he had the previous year, except that he had gopher ball problems. He gave up 14, or two per nine innings.
The Tigers employed Benoit as their closer for much of the season and he had another strong year. After the season the Padres signed him to a two-year contract with an option for a third year.
Benoit had another outstanding season with San Diego. He missed several weeks in August and September with shoulder problems.
Benoit continued pitching well, although his walk and K rates declined. And extremely low BABIP of .182 helped him compensate. After the season, San Diego exercised Benoit’s option for 2016, then traded him about a week later to Seattle.
Benoit had a rough time with the Mariners, with a sharp increase in his walk rate. It’s possible the problems were health-related, as he missed three weeks starting in late April with right shoulder inflammation. He also was hurt by a low strand rate of 66%. Shortly before the trade deadline, Seattle traded Benoit to Toronto, where he pitched very well. After the season, he became a free agent and signed a one-year deal with the Phillies.
Benoit didn’t pitch all that well for the Phillies, although his walk and K rates remained good. His xFIP of 4.66 indicates that it probably wasn’t bad luck. The Pirates acquired Benoit at the trade deadline at the same time they traded Tony Watson, evidently with the idea that Benoit would replace Watson as a setup man. Benoit was awful for the Pirates, struggling through seven August outings. In late August, he went on the disabled list with a mysterious knee ailment. He pitched once after that, on September 7, then went on leave to attend to an unspecified personal situation. He didn’t pitch again.
The Pirates’ acquisition of Benoit was one of several embarrassing late-season moves that exhibited a disturbing lack of direction in the front office. The move appeared to be an attempt to convince the fans that the Watson trade didn’t mean the team was giving up on the season, although with Watson struggling there was no reason for the fans to be upset about his departure. The move may also have been an attempt to give the increasingly rookie-phobic Clint Hurdle a veteran, any veteran, to call on in the late innings. Benoit wasn’t having a good season and was 40 years old, so the move offered little immediate upside and no future benefits. The Pirates would have been better off taking a chance of one of their young, AAA relievers, which at least would have given them the benefit of the major league innings that were wasted on Benoit. Of course, the Pirates also wasted the money they paid Benoit, which is especially baffling when you consider that they gave Juan Nicasio, an actual good pitcher, away solely to save $600,000. In any event, Benoit will be a free agent after the season and obviously won’t be a candidate to return.
|Signing Bonus: N/A
MiLB Debut: 1997
MLB Debut: 8/8/2001
MiLB FA Eligible: N/A
MLB FA Eligible: 2017
Rule 5 Eligible: N/A
Added to 40-Man: 12/20/99
Options Remaining: 0 (USED: 2001, 2002, 2003)
MLB Service Time: 14.040
|May 20, 1996: Signed as an international free agent by the Texas Rangers.
December 20, 1999: Contract purchased by the Texas Rangers.
November 6, 2009: Became a free agent.
February 15, 2010: Signed as a minor league free agent by the Tampa Bay Rays.
April 28, 2010: Called up by the Tampa Bay Rays.
November 7, 2010: Became a free agent.
November 17, 2010: Signed as a free agent by the Detroit Tigers.
October 31, 2013: Became a free agent.
December 18, 2013: Signed as a free agent with the San Diego Padres.
November 12, 2015: Traded by the San Diego Padres to the Seattle Mariners for Enyel De Los Santos and Nelson Ward.
July 26, 2016: Traded by the Seattle Mariners to the Toronto Blue Jays for Drew Storen and cash.
November 3, 2016: Became a free agent.
December 6, 2016: Signed as a free agent with the Philadelphia Phillies.
July 31, 2017: Traded by the Philadelphia Phillies with cash to the Pittsburgh Pirates for Seth McGarry.