The Mariners have acquired reliever Drew Storen and cash considerations from the Blue Jays in exchange for reliever Joaquin Benoit, according to a team announcement.
The swap of veteran relievers is the second trade of the day for the Jays, who also acquired Melvin Upton Jr. from the Padres early Tuesday. The deal amounts to a change-of-scenery swap for two previously dependable bullpen options who have struggled after offseason trades.
Storen—who had just been designated for assignment—has had his share of struggles this season since being acquired in a deal for Ben Revere over the offseason. His struggles had largely been pinned to the drop in velocity on his fastball that never seemed to heat up as the season progressed. Over 33.1 innings, Storen has surrendered 23 earned runs on 43 hits and 10 walks while striking out just 32.
Storen is putting up the worst numbers of his career in ERA, FIP, and strikeout rate. While some of that may be an adjustment to the American League, one would expect a pitcher to solve that problem a little quicker. Despite an expectation that Storen would compete for the closer’s job with Roberto Osuna upon being acquired, the Blue Jays were rumored to be shopping Storen as far back as May. As far as optimism goes, Storen’s BABIP currently sits at .363 and is almost assuredly due for some regression, though it would help if his hard-hit ball rate—which is 15 percentage points higher than his career norm—dropped.
The veteran Benoit will be joining his seventh team in his 15-year career. He has likewise faced some struggles this season. In 24.1 innings, Benoit has given up 14 earned runs on 20 hits and 15 walks while striking out 28.
Like Storen, some of Benoit’s struggles can hopefully be pinned on stats that should regress a bit. Unlike Storen however, Benoit doesn’t have many outlier measures suggesting he is hitting a substantial wall. His hard-hit rate and BABIP are well within his career norms. However, Benoit’s strand rate appears to be taking a hit and is down 20 percentage points from 2014 and 2015.
Benoit is due $8 million this season while Storen is due $8.35 million with both contracts expiring at the conclusion of the season. $2 million of Storen’s contract is already being covered by the Nationals. It is not yet clear how much more of Storen’s contract the Blue Jays will be covering.