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Nationals sign veteran reliever Joaquin Benoit to one-year deal

Joaquin Benoit adds bullpen depth to the Nationals. (Matt Slocum/Associated Press)

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Suddenly in need of more bullpen depth than a week ago, the Washington Nationals on Monday signed 40-year-old reliever Joaquin Benoit to a one-year major league contract worth $1 million, according to a person with knowledge of the situation. The deal was pending a physical as of Monday afternoon.

The news comes less than a week after Koda Glover reported to spring training with soreness in his right shoulder. The 24-year-old Glover, who missed most of last season with a rotator cuff injury, was immediately shut down.

“With Koda, I sat down with him, and I told him, I said, ‘Look, let’s just get this right,’ ” Manager Dave Martinez said. “We got plenty of time. I said, ‘I just want to make sure that when you come back, it’s not going to be 10 days, two weeks, a month. That when you’re back, you’re back. So let’s just concentrate on getting you right, getting you healthy, and now we’ll go from there.’ ”

Benoit has pitched for eight teams across 16 major league seasons since making his debut in 2001. He was one of baseball’s most effective relievers from 2010 through 2016, a seven-year period in which he pitched to a 2.40 ERA, had a WHIP under 1.00, and struck out 10 batters per nine innings. But declined last season, posted a 4.65 ERA in 52 relief appearances with the Philadelphia Phillies and Pittsburgh Pirates.

With Benoit on a major league contract, he is, barring injury, likely to make the Opening Day bullpen, which will also undoubtedly include Sean Doolittle, Ryan Madson and Brandon Kintzler. Shawn Kelley, who is owed $5.5 million this season, should also make the roster. That leaves Sammy Solis, Enny Romero, Matt Grace, and others to compete for the remaining two spots if the Nationals leave camp with a traditional seven-man bullpen.

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Right fielder for the Washington Nationals, Bryce Harper, shared his thoughts on the upcoming Major League Baseball season in Feb. 2018. (Video: Jorge Castillo/The Washington Post)