November 19th, 2010

Notes: Benoit might complete bullpen dealings

Now that the Joaquin Benoit deal is official and the Tigers have talked about it, we can now look at how this move affects the rest of the Tigers offseason, not to mention what the Tigers’ other moves Friday mean.

We certainly know what the three-year contract means: The Tigers, who have been very reluctant to do multi-year deals with non-closing relievers, had to adjust to market conditions to get the guy they wanted.

“A couple other clubs had made three-year offers on him that were very solid offers on him,” team president/general manager Dave Dombrowski said. “He was somebody we identified at the top of our list for setup men and we wanted to be aggressive.”

They were aggressive in a way that they weren’t with their free-agent relievers last winter.

“It wasn’t that we couldn’t,” Dombrowski continued. “It’s just that we chose not to. It’s just that in this case we felt comfortable doing that. We were not comfortable doing that last year. The way we checked it out, the way our reports were, on the field and medically, we felt more comfortable here.

“It was very clear that if we were [just] going to go to two years, we were not going to sign him.”

What else became clear out of this? Glad you asked:

  • Though the Tigers talked at season’s end about possibly adding multiple relievers, and the next target was expected to be a left-handed reliever. Dombrowski threw some cold water on that. He didn’t dismiss the possibility, but he certainly diminished it. “I wouldn’t say that that’s our biggest priority at this time,” Dombrowski said. “We’ll be open minded to that, but one of our advantages to our bullpen when you talk about having Joaquin in the eighth inning and Jose [Valverde] in the ninth is that they get right- and left-handed hitters out effectively. We already have Daniel Schlereth. We’ll keep an open mind, but it’s not something we’re going to be going out and actively pursuing at this point.”
  • That said, I still wouldn’t be surprised if the Tigers still looked at the market later in the offseason to see who’s out there among lefties. That part of the market has had a few guys left on the market going into spring training the last couple years. The Tigers have shown interest in Joe Beimel and John Parrish in past years, but haven’t pulled off any deals.
  • Dombrowski said Joel Zumaya is feeling well and on track to be fully healthy for the start of spring training. If he is, he’ll likely serve as a seventh-inning reliever. If you remember, that was basically his role starting out last season until he replaced Ryan Perry as the main setup man.
  • Dombrowski’s comments hinted that they have their eyes on one signing to bolster the middle of their lineup, rather than multiple moves.

And with that, I’m off for the Thanksgiving holiday. Hope you enjoy your turkey day.