Tigers, Pirates, Indians eye Padres reliever Benoit; deal 'up in the air'

Joaquin Benoit could be the next reliever sent packing by the Padres. (USATSI)
Joaquin Benoit could be the next reliever sent packing by the Padres. (USATSI)

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The Tigers, Pirates and Indians are showing interest in Padres reliever Joaquin Benoit, though a trade of Benoit isn't quite a certainty.

The Padres received a very nice package for closer Huston Street, who has a very favorable contract for a ninth-inning man. But while Benoit is drawing serious interest, the Padres would be hard-pressed to match that haul for Benoit, who is seen as more of a set-up man (and closer insurance) by most.

The Tigers and Pirates might like Benoit for the eighth inning mostly but also as insurance in case Joe Nathan or Mark Melancon falter. The same teams are also looking at Joakim Soria, who has even more closing experience.

The Indians haven't established themselves as a buyer but could be leaning that way as they heat up and could be interested in fortifying a young bullpen.

If the Padres trade Benoit, they'd have serious questions about their bullpen back end for now, but they may not have so much trouble luring a free agent to close there, considering the success they've had with closers in recent years.

Whether Benoit, who has another year to go on a $15.5 million, two-year free agent deal, one person familiar with the situation characterized it as being "up in the air."

Benoit is 3-2 with a 2.04 ERA and 0.86 WHIP his first year in San Diego.

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