The San Diego Padres already cashed in one of their trade chips when they dealt closer Huston Street to the Los Angeles Angels. If they choose to continue selling, they have another attractive trade piece in setup man Joaquin Benoit.
If the Padres do indicate a willingness to listen to offers for Benoit as well, they will have no shortage of potential trade partners. Jon Heyman of CBS reports that at least three teams are already talking to the Padres or would be interested in talking about a deal.
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.
As Benoit’s former team, the Tigers have long been linked to a possible deal. Like the Angels, the Pirates would be making their second deal for a late-innings reliever after they sent Jason Grilli to Los Angeles in exchange for Ernesto Frieri.
The Indians are a tough team to figure out as the deadline approaches; they have not been mentioned in a ton of rumors, yet they have been linked to guys like Benoit and even Tampa Bay Rays’ ace David Price. What they decide to do could throw an interesting wrench in the playoff picture in the American League.
From San Diego’s perspective, they have leverage in a potential deal. They have less incentive to deal Benoit now that Street is gone. There is an extra year of team control on his contract. Benoit’s versatility lends itself nicely to a potential playoff team as he can serve in a setup role or close. For all these reasons, the Padres will likely hold out for a big package.
That makes it far from a guarantee that Benoit is dealt at all. It just depends on how interested (read: desperate) these three teams get as the deadline approaches.