Busy Blue Jays add Benoit in deal for Storen

July 27th, 2016

TORONTO -- Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins completed his second trade in less than 24 hours on Tuesday night by acquiring right-hander from the Mariners for fellow reliever .

Seattle also will receive cash considerations as part of the deal. The trade was officially announced on the same day that the Blue Jays acquired veteran outfielder Melvin Upton Jr. from the Padres for pitching prospect Hansel Rodriguez.

Benoit and Storen were both expected to be the primary setup men for their respective teams at the beginning of the year, but it never worked out. Benoit struggled early and lost his job to rookie while Storen faced a similar fate in Toronto.

"I like it," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said of the Benoit deal. "He can fill a late-inning role, he's a veteran guy and he still has a good arm. This time of year, and with some of the struggles we've been having down there, throw a veteran in there that knows what he's doing, knows how to survive, that kind of thing. Hopefully he'll end up doing just what [Jason] Grilli has done."

Toronto has been looking to add at least one, and possibly two, arms for the bullpen before Monday's non-waiver Trade Deadline. The Blue Jays relief corps has been a weakness for most of the year, and while it drastically improved after Grilli arrived in late May, there was still some cause for concern.

Blue Jays shifting attention to pitching

The Blue Jays rank last in the American League with 21 losses out of the bullpen and their 4.13 relievers' ERA is 10th. Toronto knows what it's getting from , and Grilli has been lights-out, but after that there are a lot of question marks.

The hope from Toronto's perspective is that a change of scenery will do Benoit some good. He has a 5.18 ERA in 26 games this season, but he has a 3.87 ERA with 50 saves over 687 career appearances. From 2010-15, Benoit posted an ERA of 3.68 or below while tossing at least 54 innings in each of those years.

In a lot of ways, Benoit's story is similar to Storen's. Both relievers experienced a drop in velocity earlier this season, but Benoit appears to be trending in the right direction. He was down to 93 mph in April but since May has been around his typical 95 mph, according to Brooks Baseball. His strikeout numbers also have remained strong at 10.4 per nine innings, but his 5.5 walks per nine have been uncharacteristically high.

Storen, who was acquired from Washington during the offseason for outfielder , entered Spring Training with a chance to compete for the closer's job, but he lost out to Osuna and it was all downhill from there. The 28-year-old's drop in velocity caused him to overthrow and as a result his command suffered.

"Obviously, this has not been Drew's best season, but he is closely linked to a run of great success pitching in the back end of very good bullpens," Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto said. "Hopefully this serves as a change of scenery and over the next two months we can get him back on track."