Keith Law thinks so. Or more accurately, Law thinks the Tigers were wrong to give Benoit a three-year deal…
I truly thought major league GMs had moved beyond offering middle relievers three- or four-year deals. The history of those deals is so overwhelmingly negative, and the difficulty of predicting reliever health and performance so evident, the industry seemed to have wised up collectively, to the point where we wouldn’t see those contracts for non-closers…Benoit threw just 60 innings in 2010, none in 2009, and 45 in 2008. The odds of him staying healthy for the next three years when he threw 105 innings total in the last three — and when he has indicated his shoulder still bothered him during this “healthy” season — are incredibly low.
On the other hand, maybe giving Benoit three years was a brilliant move. The Tigers are paying Benoit $5.5 million per season. But maybe the Tigers weren’t thinking in terms of “per year,” but rather they were more concerned about the total value. That number is $16.5 million.
Last year, according to Fangraphs.com, Benoit was worth $6.1 million last year. At his best, in 2007, he was worth $8.2 million. Combined, Benoit was worth $14.3 million for those two seasons.
So let’s say the Tigers are already assuming Benoit will miss most of one of the next three seasons to injury. Isn’t it at least possible that Benoit will still be worth something close to $16.5 million even if he just pitches two years at a very high level?
In the end, the Tigers may have been better off giving Benoit three years instead of two. If it were just a two-year deal, there is a good chance Benoit would only be healthy for half of the deal. Now there is a better chance to get two healthy years.