After signing a deal worth one million dollars in Spring Training, Washington Nationals reliever Joaquin Benoit got injured and hasn’t been heard from since
At the time, it seemed like a decent move to add an experienced reliever to a team that needed bullpen help. He had a 3.83 career ERA in 16 major league seasons and had even recorded 40 saves in the last five seasons.
While the Nationals had the “law firm” for the highest leverage spots, Benoit, in theory, was going to slot into those medium leverage situations. But those plans were completely derailed by a forearm strain that he picked up before the season.
More from District on Deck
- Washington Nationals: Is Seth Lugo Still an Option?
- Robots in Baseball? The Possibility of an Automated Ball/Strike System in the MLB
- Washington Nationals Re-Sign RHP Erasmo Ramirez
- Washington Nationals Sign RHP Trevor Williams
- Washington Nationals find Success in First Draft Lottery
He was placed on the 10-Day DL on March 27th with that forearm injury and now as the season draws to a close, we have still yet to see him. While injuries to the forearm can be particularly tricky for the pitchers, it hardly seems like an injury that should keep him out all year.
The last positive update we had around Benoit was on April 27th when Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post reported that he started a throwing program. Then he moved to the 60-Day DL on May 12th to make room on the 40 man roster for Mark Reynolds.
On August 12th, Janes asked manager Davey Martinez about the status of Benoit. He paused and then said “he had a minor setback”, and with no further updates since then, we won’t be likely to see him in 2018.
If we were to see Benoit don the curly w, he would likely need to be throwing by now after missing the whole season. But more importantly, it’s strange how a forearm strain can keep him out for the whole year. Typically, they’re deemed multi-week absences, not multi-month absences.
Given that the team would’ve needed to clear a spot on the 40, they needed to be confident in Benoit upon return. We saw earlier this year, when they surprisingly demoted Sammy Solis, that they were cautious about losing people off the 40, so this isn’t overly surprising on that front.
It will be interesting to see if more develops on this story over the offseason, and whether it was the Nats being reluctant to open up a roster spot, or if Benoit genuinely wasn’t ready to resume a throwing program again this season. If it was indeed the latter, then we may well see the right-handed reliever retire in the offseason. After all, he did turn 41 on July 26th.
We’ve seen at various points this season where the Nationals have downplayed injuries, only for them to be more serious. Could the same have happened with Benoit? It seems pretty likely based on how things have played out.
Joaquin Benoit and the Washington Nationals have had one of the most bizarre unions in recent memory. At least it was only a low-cost deal, so the Nats don’t really miss out on much.