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Padres, reliever Benoit agree to two-year deal

Padres, reliever Benoit agree to two-year deal

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SAN DIEGO -- As of late Tuesday, Padres; general manager Josh Byrnes was hopeful the team could land a "difference-maker" to cover late innings in the bullpen.

Today, that search is over.

According to a source, the Padres have reached an agreement on a two-year contract with 36-year-old reliever Joaquin Benoit, pending a physical. The club has not yet confirmed the deal.

The Padres, who to date have added a free-agent starting pitcher and traded for an outfielder to help fill their offseason needs, will give Benoit a $15.5 million deal. He'll make $6 million in 2014, $8 million in '15 with a $1.5 million buyout for '16.

The Padres had a spot to fill in the back end of their bullpen after dealing reliever Luke Gregerson to the A's for outfielder Seth Smith recently.

Byrnes said Tuesday that if the team didn't land a prominent arm for the bullpen, he could envision the Padres using several young relievers to fill out the rest of the bullpen.

That won't be needed now with the addition of Benoit, who continued to defy the laws of regression.

Benoit spent the last three seasons with the Tigers, compiling a 2.89 ERA over 205 games. He had a 2.01 ERA in 66 games last season with 24 saves. Since missing the 2009 season after having surgery on his rotator cuff, Benoit has a 2.53 ERA and a 164 ERA+ over that time.

The Padres will likely have Benoit handle the eighth inning before handing the ball over to closer Huston Street. But this deal also gives the team coverage in the ninth inning, especially since Street has landed on the disabled list three times in the past two seasons.

Earlier this offseason, the Padres signed free-agent starting pitcher Josh Johnson to a one-year deal worth $8 million. That came before the deal to land Smith, which, the team hopes, will address their offensive woes against right-handed pitching a year ago.

Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. Keep track of @FollowThePadres on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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