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December 05, 2016

Reports: Phillies have a deal in place with veteran reliever Benoit

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. – The Phillies bullpen had some bright spots in 2016.

The emergence of Hector Neris as a back-end-of-the-pen strikeout prone pitcher. The debuts of talented young arms Edubray Ramos and Joely Rodriguez. The steady hand of veteran Jeanmar Gomez in the ninth inning – at least for the season's first five months.

But the unit was far from perfect.

From September 1 on, in the season’s final 29 games, Phillies relievers were 2-10 with a 7.88 ERA. They allowed 89 runs and yielded 120 hits and 61 walks in 96 innings.

General manager Matt Klentak sought to add some more dependability to his ‘pen in his first full offseason as a general manager and hasn’t wasted a whole lot of time in following through on that desire.

According to multiple reports, the Phillies are expected to announce a deal with veteran free agent reliever Joaquin Benoit. Benoit would join Pat Neshek (who was acquired in a trade in November) as two proven right-handed arms Klentak as added to his relief corps in the first month of the offseason.

The imminent agreement with Benoit was first reported by late Sunday night. The deal, a one-year, $7.5 million contract according to the Associated Press, is pending a physical.

Benoit, 39, is a veteran is 15 big league seasons. He was a key member of the Toronto Blue Jays ‘pen after joining them before the trade deadline last summer, allowing just one earned run in 22 games (0.44 ERA) while striking out 21 and walking six in 20 2/3 innings. Benoit was unavailable to pitch for Toronto in the postseason after suffering a calf injury in September.

Benoit has a 3.79 ERA in 712 major league games with the Blue Jays, Mariners, Padres, Tigers, Rays, and Rangers since 2001. He saved 24 games for the AL Central Champion Tigers in 2013.

It's uncertain if the contract will be announced while the Phillies are in National Harbor, MD., for this week's Winter Meetings. Klentak is scheduled to speak with the media later this afternoon. 

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