Thursday November 18, 2010 | 07:19 AM

The Detroit Tigers signed free agent set-up reliever Joaquin Benoit to a three-year deal. Reports vary on the worth. The Detroit News reported that the contract is for $16.5-million with incentives that could add $1-million a year.

Benoit, 33, had a great year with the Rays last season, with a 1.34 ERA and a 0.68 WHiP (walks/hits per inning).

But he has been inconsistent in his career and missed the 2009 season after rotator cuff surgery.

Benoit's contract sets the bar high for other relievers - not good news for the Boston Red Sox, which are in the process of rebuilding their bullpen.

So far, Boston has looked for bargains with high-potential guys who cost very little - Andrew Miller and Taylor Buchholz.

Eventually, the Red Sox will have to take a gamble on a free agent reliever.

Most teams don't like to take such gambles because of the up-and-down nature of relievers' career.

Remember 2006? Boston brought in a couple of veterans who had experienced some success. Rudy Seanez recorded a 4.82 ERA for the Red Sox before Boston released him. Julian Tavarez, signed to a multi-year contract at $3.35-million per, had a 4.47 ERA.

 

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Kevin Thomas covers baseball and basketball for the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram. He wisely moved to Maine in 1994 after working for the St. Petersburg Times. He is married to Nancy and they have nine children.

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