Benitez or Bust?

That’s what it looks like. GM Mark Shapiro wants to take care of the closer vacancy first, given the variables involved. There are really four closers out there of note, and Armando Benitez is without a doubt the best of the bunch. Troy Percival looks to be on the downside of his career, Bob Wickman has serious health issues, and Dustin Hermanson barely qualifies as closer. In contrast, Benitez only allowed 36 hits in almost 70 innings pitched. He posted a VORP of 33.1, behind only Brad Lidge, Mariano Rivera, Francisco Rodriguez, B.J. Ryan, Joe Nathan, and Keith Foulke among late-inning relievers.

The good news is that the Indians are up against at most 3 other teams in serious bidding for Benitez. The Chicago Cubs, Florida Marlins, and San Francisco Giants are the only three teams I’ve seen that have been mentioned in conjunction with Benitez. The Cubs seem to be more enamored with Troy Percival, and the Marlins have a fallback in Guillermo Mota. The biggest competitor for Benitez may be the San Francisco Giants. According to Paul Hoynes, Shapiro may strike quickly, offering Benitez a contract while other clubs are taking care of other more pressing needs.

Benitez is, in my mind, the only closer in the market worth giving a multi-year deal to. If they don’t get him, probably plan B is to re-sign Bob Wickman to a one-year deal, assuming Percival signs with the Cubs. Contrary to what Roger Brown is spouting, there aren’t that many good closers out there, and Benitez is by far the best of this season’s crop.

Transactions

Re-signed RHRP Jake Robbins to a minor-league contract

Robbins will probably get an invite to Spring Training, but isn’t likely to break camp with the major-league club. He’s bullpen insurance.

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