Boston Red Sox Top-5 free agent reliever targets

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Apr 15, 2015; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Padres relief pitcher Joaquin Benoit pitches during the eighth inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Joaquin Benoit

Age: 38
2015 Stats: 65.1 innings, 6-5, 2.34 ERA, 0.90 WHIP, 8.7 K/9

It remains to be seen if Benoit will even be available, since the San Diego Padres hold an $8 million team option on his contract for 2016. The Padres went all in this year, but after that backfired they may be forced to take a step back, in which case they may not be compelled to pay such a lofty price for a setup man.

If he does hit the open market, expect the Red Sox to take a long look at the veteran reliever. Dombrowski knows him well from the three seasons Benoit spent in Detroit from 2011-2013, so he knows he’s capable of thriving in the AL.

Benoit began his career as an ineffective starter, bouncing back and forth between the bullpen and rotation in parts of five seasons with the Texas Rangers before converting to a full-time reliever in 2006. He missed the entire 2009 season due to injury, but bounced back stronger than ever the following year after joining the Tampa Bay Rays. His strikeout rate jumped dramatically in the ensuing post-surgery years and he has posted a 2.35 ERA over the last six seasons.

His strikeout and walk rates regressed toward his career averages this season, which may be a sign that age is catching up to the 14-year veteran. However, it’s not as if the Red Sox have been shy about relying on aging relievers and he could be even more appealing if he’s willing to sign a one-year deal.