Seattle Mariners

Mariners Notebook: Veteran reliever Joaquin Benoit acquired from Padres

The Mariners further addressed their bullpen Thursday by acquiring right-handed reliever Joaquin Benoit from the San Diego Padres for a pair of minor league prospects. Benoit was 6-5 in 2015 with a 2.34 ERA who could be used as a set-up man or closer.
The Mariners further addressed their bullpen Thursday by acquiring right-handed reliever Joaquin Benoit from the San Diego Padres for a pair of minor league prospects. Benoit was 6-5 in 2015 with a 2.34 ERA who could be used as a set-up man or closer. AP file, 2014

The moves keep coming for the Mariners.

The latest acquisition is veteran reliever Joaquin Benoit, whom they obtained from the San Diego Padres on Thursday in a trade 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 offseason 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 past 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 the outfield) 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.”

Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners

Mariners’ Silver Slugger winners

1991: Ken Griffey Jr.

1992: Edgar Martinez

1993: Ken Griffey Jr.

1994: Ken Griffey Jr.; Edgar Martinez

1996: Ken Griffey Jr.; Alex Rodriguez

1997: Ken Griffey Jr.; Edgar Martinez

1998: Ken Griffey Jr.; Alex Rodriguez

1999: Ken Griffey Jr.; Alex Rodriguez

2000: Alex Rodriguez

2001: Bret Boone; Edgar Martinez; Ichiro Suzuki

2003: Bret Boone; Edgar Martinez

2007: Ichiro Suzuki

2009: Ichiro Suzuki

2015: Nelson Cruz

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