SEATTLE (AP) — Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto is wasting little time in addressing one of his team’s most glaring needs.
Seattle added to its bullpen Thursday, acquiring 38-year-old right-hander Joaquin Benoit from the San Diego Padres for two minor league prospects — right-handed pitcher Enyel De Los Santos and infielder Nelson Ward.
Dipoto saw Benoit pitch in September. He raved about his changeup and was impressed with his ability to still throw in the mid-90s by season’s end.
“A three-pitch, back-end guy with three out pitches at any given moment in time and that changeup just gives him a wipeout pitch to both sides,” the new Seattle GM said. “He’ll throw it to the right and the left. He’s been both durable and … a good fit for our ballpark.”
Benoit was 6-5 with a 2.34 ERA in 67 appearances last season for San Diego. Opponents hit just .159 against Benoit. He was especially tough on right-handed hitters, with a .144 average against him. It was the lowest of any NL pitcher who faced at least 100 batters.
Benoit has played 14 seasons in the majors with Texas, Tampa Bay, Detroit and San Diego. He fits an immediate need after Seattle’s bullpen regressed significantly in 2015. After being the best bullpen in baseball in 2014, Mariners relievers ranked 25th with a 4.15 ERA and had 24 blown saves.
Dipoto didn’t want to define a role for Benoit this soon into the offseason, but he sees him as a core piece at the back of the bullpen with Tom Wilhelmsen, Charlie Furbush and Carson Smith. The Mariners also added left-handed reliever C.J. Riefenhauser as part of a six-player trade with Tampa Bay last week.
“There is still an awful lot of offseason left,” Dipoto said. “I don’t anticipate this will be the last addition we make in our bullpen.”