UPDATE: Enrique Rojas of ESPNDeportes says the deal is for three years and $16.5 million, with another $1 million in incentives each season. MLB Trade Rumors notes that it’s the biggest contract signed by a non-closer reliever since Scott Linebrink in November of 2007.
According to Jon Paul Morosi of FOXSports.com the Tigers “are nearing a multi-year agreement with right-hander Joaquin Benoit” and “the deal could be for as long as three years.”
Benoit was nearly unhittable this season for Tampa Bay, throwing 60 innings with a 1.34 ERA, .147 opponents’ batting average, and 75/11 K/BB ratio and did so while making peanuts after the Rays picked him up off the scrap heap following shoulder surgery.
That he’s now on the verge of getting a three-year deal just 12 months after being available to anyone who wanted him for $1 million speaks to how amazing Benoit was in his comeback and also to the type of risk the Tigers are taking to add another power arm to their bullpen. When healthy Benoit has consistently been a top-notch setup man, but his last healthy and effective season before this one was 2007 and even setting aside his injury history signing a 33-year-old reliever to a three-year deal is always a big risk.
Kurt Suzuki will wear a Braves’ uniform through the 2018 season after signing a one-year, $3.5 million extension with the club on Saturday, per The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal. Rosenthal adds that the two had been in talks for weeks and Suzuki made it clear that he wanted to remain in Atlanta for the foreseeable future. The team has yet to announce the extension.
Suzuki, 33, initially signed a one-year contract with the Braves back in January. The veteran backstop stepped into a backup role behind starting catcher Tyler Flowers, but still found a way to impress at the plate with a .271/.343/.525 batting line, career-best 18 home runs and an .868 OPS through 287 PA. According to FanGraphs, Suzuki’s 2.2 fWAR makes 2017 his most valuable season since his run with the 2009 Athletics.
It’s a prudent move for the Braves, who would have lost one of their most dynamic second-half hitters to the free agent market this offseason. Entering Saturday, Suzuki is second only to Freddie Freeman with 11 homers and 1.4 fWAR since the All-Star break. His stunning comeback also confirmed the team’s decision to look outside the organization for a backup catcher, rather than turning to fellow veteran Anthony Recker behind the plate.
“On a personal level, this season exceeded my expectations,” Suzuki told reporters on Wednesday. “It’s just one of those things I can’t explain. I put a lot of work in and really didn’t have a job until late January. I got an opportunity here and took advantage of it. It was definitely a good fit.”
Tigers’ outfielder Mikie Mahtook is unlikely to play again this season, club manager Brad Ausmus announced Saturday. Mahtook was diagnosed with a Grade 2 left groin strain following Friday’s series opener against the Twins, when he appeared to injure himself after chasing down Byron Buxton‘s two-RBI double in the fourth.
This is the second time Mahtook has sustained a groin injury over the past month. The 27-year-old exited Friday’s game with a .276/.330/.457 batting line, 12 home runs and a .787 OPS through 379 plate appearances with the team.
With the Tigers out of contention, there’s no reason to trot out Mahtook for the remaining eight games of the regular season. The club has yet to specify a timetable for his return, but there’s no reason to believe he won’t be in fine shape to compete for a starting role next spring.