Earlier today, while most of San Diego was just starting their work day, and while I was heading to Panera for my lunch break here in Cleveland, the news broke that the Padres had done exactly what it was expected they would do since late last week, inking free agent reliever Joaquin Benoit to a 2 year contract that will pay him $15.5 million.
It was a move I supported. It also is officially the largest guaranteed contract ever handed out to a free agent by the Padres. It also pushes the Padres projected payroll for 2014 close to $88 million, which would be another franchise record. Subject to change, of course, and changes could be coming very soon, as the Padres need to open up a space on the 40 man roster before they can officially add Benoit.
Much has been made on Twitter and sports talk radio and anywhere else people discuss Padres news today about the signing. Not everybody is super duper stoked on the deal. There’s a thought that the process that created the hole that Benoit was then signed to fill was an unnecessary or questionable one. There’s the mathematical thought that the Padres aren’t that much better today with Seth Smith and Benoit than they were with Luke Gregerson and (insert backup outfielder). There’s a thought that the Padres shouldn’t be spending over $14 million on two relievers (if they kept Gregerson they’d be spending $12 million), when that money could be put to better use. There’s the realization that the Padres are paying closer money for a setup man in his age 36 and 37 seasons.
These aren’t illegitimate analyses. I, for one, get nervous anytime someone older than me gets signed to a multi-year deal. I’m only 31 and I groan every single time I bend over and every single time I get up off the couch. Maybe that says more about me than it does about 30-something baseball players.
Anyway, I still like the move and while it may not analytically add a ton of value to the team, it feels like the Padres are just about a complete team at this point. I’m excited to see what this team will do now. Maybe it’s low expectations, but this feels like a decent team that has a chance to be good. As Jeff Sullivan wrote in his analysis of the trade for Fangraphs, the Padres are “not too bad of a team to dream.”
Maybe they’re mediocre, but they’ve got a shot at something better than that. Maybe.
Sullivan also went into a detailed analysis of closer leverage versus setup man leverage, and his conclusion seems to me to be that setup men are almost as important if not just as important as closers in terms of the difficulty of the situations they face.
Keith Law ($$) wasn’t a big fan of the move. He basically says that Gregerson is better than Benoit, and they Padres are paying more for an inferior player. I don’t really think the stats back up that argument, but he’s certainly entitled to the opinion.
Lee Hacksaw Hamilton thinks Benoit gives up too many home runs, but ignored/did not notice the fact that most of the home runs Benoit has given up in his career were before he was converted to a reliever. I mean, I don’t know why anyone listens to Hacksaw, but I guess it’s worth mentioning since it got plenty of attention.
And just now the Padres made their next move:
— San Diego Padres (@Padres) December 18, 2013
I’m sure someone else have a lot more to say about that than I do.
In closing, I leave you with this. One of Josh Byrnes’ top priorities this offseason was “general upgrades.” It sounded laughable at the time, and it still does, but if you look at what he’s added to the team so far in the offseason, this has been the winter of general upgrades. So I thought, maybe Josh Byrnes needs a nickname. I sought some help and my blog partner came to my rescue.
Can someone please put a military uniform on this pic of Josh Byrnes for me. Josh Byrnes = General Upgrades pic.twitter.com/g532IYnj59
— Nathan Veale (@VocalMinorityNV) December 18, 2013
— VM David (@VocalMinoritySD) December 18, 2013
I swear this is my last post of 2013. Follow me on Twitter.