TORONTO – The Toronto Blue Jays are looking to help Joaquin Benoit turn around his season the way Jason Grilli did following his acquisition, picking up the veteran right-hander from the Seattle Mariners for Drew Storen and cash considerations.
The trade, announced just as the Blue Jays completed a 7-6, 12-inning comeback win over the San Diego Padres, swaps one struggling reliever with a strong track record for another.
Benoit, who’s making $8 million this season, is 1-1 with a 5.18 ERA in 26 games, but has 28 strikeouts in 24.1 innings of work. He’s allowed 20 hits with 15 walks, a walks-per-nine rate of 5.5 that’s uncharacteristically high for the 39-year-old.
Last season with the Padres, the 39-year-old went 6-5 with a 2.34 ERA in 65.1 innings with 63 strikeouts over 67 games.
His velocity remains unchanged from last year – his fastball averages 94.1 mph – and his splits this year are relatively platoon neutral (.716 OPS for righties, .669 for lefties). The Blue Jays have some ideas to help him sort through his command issues. His walks-per-nine rate was 3.2 and over his 15-year career it’s 3.7.
"I like it, he can fill a late-inning role, he’s a veteran guy, he’s still got a good arm," said manager John Gibbons. "This time of year, with some of the struggles we’ve had down there, throw a veteran in there that knows what he’s doing and knows how to survive, that kind of thing. Hopefully he’ll end up doing just what Grilli’s done."
Storen – making $8.375 million, $2 million of which is being covered by the Washington Nationals – was 1-3 with three saves and a 6.21 ERA in 38 games. The Blue Jays designated him for assignment Sunday, a day after Storen allowed three runs on three hits and a walk in an inning of mop-up duty against the Mariners.
The Blue Jays didn’t make an immediate roster move to clear a spot for Benoit, who Gibbons said might be available for Wednesday’s matinee against the Padres.
Benoit last pitched in Seattle’s 2-0 loss at Toronto on Sunday, throwing a shutout inning.