Kris Benson has had quite the curious career, mixing solid and awful campaigns with an unappealing injury history, and a personal relationship that hogged more headlines than his actual performance. He burst onto the scene in 1999, with the Pirates, and put up an impressive 4.14 FIP in 196.2 innings. Benson avoided the sophomore slump in 2000, posting a 4.20 FIP in 217.2 innings. He then missed the entire 2001 season recovering from an injury and saw limited action the next two seasons.
In 2004, Benson split time between the Pirates and Mets, and put together his best season. With a 3.75 FIP, 2.20 K/BB, and +3.8 wins in 200.1 innings, Benson appeared to have finally recovered from his injury woes, righting the proverbial ship in the process. Unfortunately, this was not the case, as his strikeout and home run rates trended in opposite directions in 2005 and 2006, leading Benson back under the knife for rotator cuff surgery.
He missed the entire 2007 season recovering and went through the audition process before landing a gig in the Phillies farm system in 2008. Things didn’t exactly work out as planned, as not only did Benson fail to reach the major leagues, he struggled to shut down AAA hitting, eventually earning his release from the team. After some more auditioning, the Rangers have taken a flyer on Benson, signing him to a minor league deal that could be valued at $2 mil if he makes the team and earns a spot in the rotation.
This bugs me. I don’t know how I became the Chairman of the Odalis Perez Foundation, but I just struggle to comprehend how the 34-yr old Benson, who stunk in the minor leagues last year and has not pitched in the majors since 2006 has the chance to make over twice what the 31-yr old Odalis Perez—who has put up win values of +1.6, +1.4, +1.5, and +1.5 over the last four seasons—will make in 2009.
Ignoring the Perez comparison, this is not a bad move for the Rangers given how poor their rotation performed last season and how relatively little Benson costs. If he makes the team, he seems capable of hovering around +1-win performance but he no longer has the +2 or +3 win upside evident in his stellar 2004 season. And who knows if he has even fully recovered? This is a solid move for the Rangers but I just wonder why someone like Perez was not more attractive to their plans.