SAN DIEGO -- The Padres took their first steps toward addressing the 2016 roster Tuesday when they picked up the option on right-handed reliever Joaquin Benoit, while declining the option on veteran shortstop Clint Barmes.
Benoit, who will turn 39 in July, had a $7.5 million option for 2016 with a $1 million buyout. He wasn't as effective as he was in 2014, but he had a 2.34 ERA over 67 appearances, with 36 hits allowed and 63 strikeouts.
Could Benoit essentially be protection in the event the Padres trade closer Craig Kimbrel this winter?
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Benoit's swinging-strike rate was down (16.5 percent from 18.2 percent in 2014) while his contact-percentage rate (67.7 percent from 64.3 percent) and line-drive rate (17.3 percent from 14.6 percent) jumped in 2015.
That said, the percentage of hard contact was down (28.9 percent from 31.7 in 2014), and his fastball still had plenty of buzz (94.2 mph, PITCHf/x), while his fly-ball percentage plummeted (36.4 percent in 2015 from 50.4 percent).
Benoit also held opponents to a .159/.242/.305 slash line, the best opponents' batting average and fifth-best on-base percentage in the National League.
The Padres declined the $2 million option on Barmes, thus paying him a $200,000 buyout. Barmes hit .232 in 98 games, though he got only 76 at-bats in the second half as the team looked at Jedd Gyorko at shortstop.
The Padres have yet to decide on what to do with left-handed pitcher Cory Luebke, who missed each of the last two seasons while recovering and working his way back from two Tommy John surgeries. The team holds a $7.5 million club option with a $1.75 million buyout.
Picking up the option on Benoit means the Padres already have about $81 million committed in payroll toward next season. Their $108 million Opening Day payroll in April was the highest in franchise history.
Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. Keep track of @FollowThePadres on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.