The Phillies got right to work improving their bullpen early in the offseason.   The Phillies acquired reliever Pat Neshak in a trade with the Houston Astros.  On Friday, the Phillies claimed left-handed reliever David Rollins from the Seattle Mariners.   And on the eve of the official beginning of the 2016 Winter Meetings, the Phillies reportedly have added a veteran right-handed bullpen arm.

CSN Philly's Jim Salisbury reports that the Phillies are close to signing Joaquin Benoit:

The team is close to signing veteran reliever Joaquin Benoit, sources tell The winter meetings officially begin on Monday. The signing is expected to be announced before the meetings end on Thursday.

Often the report that a team is "close" to a signing means the player must pass a physical before the deal is official.

Benoit is now 39 years old and has pitched in the Major Leagues since 2001 for the Texas Rangers, Tampa Bay Rays, Detroit Tigers, San Diego Padres, Seattle Mariners, and the Toronto Blue Jays.

Benoit began 2016 with the Seattle Mariners, going 1-1 with a 5.18 earned run average in 24 1/3 innings and 26 games.  The Mariners and Toronto Blue Jays swapped struggling relievers, with Drew Storen going to Seattle and Benoit going to Toronto. After Benoit joined Blue Jays he was dominant, making 25 appearances and pitching to a 0.38 earned run average.

Benoit holds an odd Major League record: the longest save in a MLB game.   Pitching for the Texas Rangers in 2002, the Rangers starter never made it through the first batter before leaving with an injury.   Todd Van Poppel pitched two innings in relief and was credited with the win.  Benoit pitched the final seven innings and the official scorer credited him with a save.

The Phillies 40-man roster is currently full, so the Phillies will have to make an additional move before adding Benoit to the roster.  Perhaps the Phillies make another deal in the meantime at the Winter Meetings to free up space.  On the roster include relievers Luis Garcia, Michael Mariot and Phil Klein who could all be candidates to lose a roster spot, particularly if the Phillies think they can slip one of them through waivers.

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