Rays add another interesting reliever in Benoit

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Tampa Bay made a nice low-cost pickup this afternoon, signing Joaquin Benoit to a minor-league contract with an invite to spring training.
It remains to be seen if Benoit can rediscover his old stuff after missing part of 2008 and all of 2009 following shoulder surgery, but prior to the injury he was a reliable setup man for the Rangers, posting a 3.80 ERA with 250 strikeouts versus just 205 hits allowed in 248.2 innings from 2005-2007.
As noted when news of his comeback first surfaced last week, during that three-year span the only relievers to toss 200-plus innings with a lower opponents’ batting average than Benoit were Joe Nathan, Francisco Rodriguez, Billy Wagner, J.J. Putz, Brian Fuentes, Scot Shields, Rafael Betancourt, and Mariano Rivera.
Rafael Soriano was acquired to be the Rays’ closer and his primary setup men figure to be J.P. Howell, Grant Balfour, and Dan Wheeler, but Benoit could provide some nice bullpen depth as a middle-relief option and the price was certainly right. Lots of injury prone guys in that mix, but if everyone stays healthy the Rays could be dominant in the late innings.

Diamondbacks sign Fernando Rodney to a one-year, $2.75 million deal

PITTSBURGH, PA - AUGUST 21:  Fernando Rodney #56 of the Miami Marlins pitches during the game against the Pittsburgh Pirates on August 21, 2016 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images) *** Local Caption ***
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Confirming a report from Tuesday, the Diamondbacks officially signed right-hander Fernando Rodney to a one-year, $2.75 million contract on Friday. The 39-year-old stands to receive up to $4 million in incentives, per Jack MacGruder of FanRag Sports, with $250,000 kicking in when the veteran reaches 40, 50 and 60 appearances and $500,000 if he reaches 70.

Rodney came three games shy of the 70-appearance mark in 2016 during back-to-back stints with the Padres and Marlins. He put up a cumulative 3.44 ERA on the year, which effectively disguised the extreme split during his performances in San Diego and Miami. The Diamondbacks aren’t anywhere close to contending in 2017, but Rodney should stabilize the back end of their bullpen while providing Arizona GM Mike Hazen with a potential trade chip during next year’s deadline.

Hazen issued a statement following the signing:

With Fernando, we’re getting an established Major League closer and a veteran presence in the bullpen. It is helpful to have someone with his experience on the back end to slow the game down and get the final three outs.

Cardinals, Dexter Fowler agree to a five-year, $82 million deal

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 02:  Dexter Fowler #24 of the Chicago Cubs reacts during the seventh inning against the Cleveland Indians in Game Seven of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field on November 2, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
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The Cardinals have officially signed outfielder Dexter Fowler to a five-year, $82.5 million contract. Fowler will also get a full no-trade clause.

The Cardinals gave Fowler a bigger deal than many speculated he’d get, as some reports predicted he’d get something in the $52-72 million range. His skills, however — he’s a fantastic leadoff hitter who plays a premium defensive position — definitely earned him some major dough. Fowler hit .276/.393/.447 with 13 homers, 48 RBI and 13 steals over 125 games in 2016 for the World Series champion Cubs.

For the Cardinals, this will allow Matt Carpenter to move down to the middle of the batting order and will shift Randal Grichuk to left field. It also takes a prime piece from the Cardinals’ biggest rival. For their part, earlier this offseason the Cubs signed former Cardinal center fielder Jon Jay. So that’s fun.