The price of middle relief continues to rise.
The Tigers have agreed to terms on a deal with Joaquin Benoit for $16.5 million over three years, baseball sources confirmed to CBSSports.com.
While Benoit had an outstanding season as the Rays' eighth-inning specialist, with a 1.34 ERA and a 0.68 WHIP in 63 appearances, he has yet to have back-to-back good seasons in his career. He didn't pitch at all in 2009, and thus has pitched barely 100 innings in the last three years combined. A year ago, Benoit signed with the Rays on a minor-league deal for $10,000 a month.
If Benoit is anywhere close to as good with the Tigers as he was with the Rays, he substantially strengthens a back end of the bullpen that also includes closer Jose Valverde, as well as Ryan Perry and Joel Zumaya.
The Tigers have money to spend and are trying hard to win next year. They're also talking to free agent Adam Dunn, but they're not yet believed to be close to a deal with him.
The Rays would have liked to retain Benoit, but their decreasing payroll gave them little chance in an exploding market. The Rays need to rebuilt their entire bullpen, and need to do it on a very limited budget.