Mariners Insider Blog

Mariners acquire veteran reliever Joaquin Benoit from Padres

Veteran reliever Joaquin Benoit is the Mariners’ latest off-season addition.
Veteran reliever Joaquin Benoit is the Mariners’ latest off-season addition. AP

SEATTLE — The moves keep coming for the Mariners.

The latest acquisition is veteran reliever Joaquin Benoit, whom they obtained Thursday in a trade from the San Diego Padres for two minor-league players.

"Joaquin is a proven late-game presence," general manager Jerry Dipoto said, "who brings both stability and impact to the back end of our bullpen.

"We value his experience, track record of durability and consistently high-end performance."

The Mariners surrendered right-handed pitcher Enyel De Los Santos and infielder Nelson Ward in the deal.

Benoit, 38, is a 14-year veteran who is signed through next season for $8 million. He was 6-5 with a 2.34 ERA last season for the Padres in 67 appearances.

"He’s nearing 40 years old now," Dipoto said, "but he hasn’t lost his effectiveness. He continues to turn in a quality performance year after year. He’s been durable and effective in every way."

Dipoto said Benoit will join Tom Wilhelmsen, Carson Smith and "hopefully" Charlie Furbush "as the quartet that make up the back end of our game.

"And there’s still an awful lot of off-season left. I don’t anticipate this will be the last addition we make in our bullpen."

De Los Santos, 19, was 6-0 with a 3.47 ERA last season in 13 starts for Rookie Peoria and Short-A Everett. A native Dominican, he was signed in 2014 as a non-drafted free agent.

Ward, 23, was a 12th-round pick in 2014 who batted .278 last season with nine homers and 55 RBIs in 122 games at Lo-A Clinton and Hi-A Bakersfield.

Benoit pitched previously for Texas (2001-08), Tampa Bay (2010) and Detroit (2011-13) before signing a three-year deal with San Diego as a free agent on Dec. 28, 2013.

The numbers suggest Benoit is getting better as he ages; he is a combined 14-8 with a 1.98 ERA in 186 games over the last three years. Overall, he is 54-42 with 50 saves and a 3.84 ERA in 661 career games.

"He’s still mid-to-upper 90s," Dipoto said. "He’s 94-to-96 (mph) on a given night. He’s got a power changeup that is just a dive-bomber. It almost has the effect of a split finger.

"Additionally, he has what I think is an above-average major-league slider. (Benoit) is a three-pitch, back-end guy with three out pitches, and that changeup really gives him a wipe-out pitch from both sides."

The move leaves just one opening on the Mariners’ 40-man roster.

CRUZ WINS AWARD

The Mariners, for the first time in six years, have a Silver Slugger recipient, which seeks to identify the top offensive performer at each position in both leagues.

Nelson Cruz broke the Mariners’ drought when he was picked as an outfielder on the American League team in a vote by managers and coaches.

Cruz, 35, batted .302 with a career-high 44 homers and 93 RBIs and finished with a .369 on-base percentage and a .566 slugging percentage.

The award is a career-first for Cruz and caps a season in which he was also voted by fans to the AL All-Star team as the starting designated hitter. He is the Mariners’ first Silver Slugger winner since outfielder Ichiro Suzuki in 2009.

The rest of the AL recipients: C Brian McCann, New York; 1B Miguel Cabrera, Detroit; 2B Jose Altuve, Houston; SS Xander Bogaerts, Boston; 3B Josh Donaldson, Toronto; OF Mike Trout, Los Angeles; OF J.D. Martinez, Detroit; and DH Kendrys Morales, Kansas City.

The National League winners: C Buster Posey, San Francisco; 1B Paul Goldschmidt, Arizona; 2B Dee Gordon, Miami; SS Brandon Crawford, San Francisco; 3B Nolan Arenado, Colorado; OF Bryce Harper, OF Andrew McCutcheon, OF Carlos Gonzalez, Colorado; and P Madison Bumgarner, San Francisco.

QUALIFYING OFFER

Right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma has until 2 p.m. Friday to accept or reject a one-year qualifying offer from the Mariners for $15.8 million.

Iwakuma, 34, is expected to reject the offer because he is seeking a multi-year contract after going 9-5 with a 3.54 ERA in 20 starts. He missed 11 weeks because of a strained back muscle.

Rejecting the offer does not prevent Iwakuma from continuing to negotiate with the Mariners, but other clubs — including Detroit and the New York Yankees — are believed to be interested.

If Iwakuma signs elsewhere, the Mariners, by extending the qualifying offer, will receive a compensatory draft pick next June between the first and second rounds.

DIPOTO: GUTIERREZ WAS `NO-BRAINER’

The decision to retain free-agent outfielder Franklin Gutierrez was, in Dipoto’s words, "a no-brainer for us." Gutierrez agreed Wednesday to a one-year contract.

"He is coming off just a tremendous year," Dipoto said, "and I think we might have found the sweet spot for Franklin in the way he’s used…We love his makeup. We love what he brings to our clubhouse."

Gutierrez, 32, returned last season from a year-long absence for health issues and batted a career-high .292 with 15 homers and 35 RBIs in 59 games following his June 24 promotion from Triple-A Tacoma.

"A platoon situation (in left field) with Seth Smith," Dipoto said, "provides us with a high-impact position if the two of them are together.

"That doesn’t limit either (from) the ability to face same-handed pitchers, but right now, we view that as a tandem that really gives us some advantage at their position."

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