Benoit, Nationals complete one-year deal

Right-handed reliever entering 16th season in big leagues

February 19th, 2018

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- had just arrived in Phoenix after spending the offseason in the Dominican Republic when he got the call that he needed to go to Florida. The Nationals were closing in on a contract for Benoit, a move they worked on quickly after a hole opened up in their bullpen.

Benoit has been in camp for a day and participated in a few workouts, but the veteran reliever officially signed his one-year deal with Washington on Wednesday, a decision he said was an easy one to make.

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"Look around. This is the team," Benoit said. "This is not about going to a place and being miserable. This is about going to a place and being comfortable and having a chance to go to the playoffs and contribute."

The need for Benoit developed at the start of camp, when arrived with a sore right shoulder. He has not been cleared to throw and his status is uncertain, so the Nats went out to cover themselves.

They believe Benoit, 40, is due for a rebound after a difficult 2017 where his ERA ballooned to 4.65. In the past seven seasons, he averaged a 2.40 ERA and never posted an ERA higher 3.68. Washington is betting he still has something left in the tank, given that his fastball velocity of 94.8 mph last season was the highest of his career.

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"I don't normally talk about things like that, but there was a lot of personal stuff going on last year," Benoit said. "I can't blame that, because the game is played the same way for hundreds of years. But it was a lot of things on my mind. Like I said, I don't like to make excuses, but things didn't go the way I planned or the way I wanted them to go."

Grapefruit League action approaches

The Nationals will begin open their Grapefruit League schedule Friday afternoon against the Astros, even though the first position player workouts began this week. However, manager Dave Martinez does not think the Nats will have an issue getting players ready for the first game so quickly with the condensed spring schedule.

"We've talked with a lot of position players already about what they think and feel and my coaches have been great," Martinez said. "They've been asking and they've been watching. We've had communication throughout the week kind of figuring out which guys we feel can already play. And a lot of them have come up and said they're good to go."

All but one

Martinez said everyone expected has reported for camp except for left-hander , a non-roster invitee who had visa issues coming from Venezuela. He is expected to report to camp in the coming days.