The Blue Jays announced today that they have claimed right-handed reliever Ben Rowen off waivers from the Cubs and assigned him to Triple-A Buffalo.
Rowen, 26, has made his way around the league over the past half-year or so. Signed to a minor league deal by the Dodgers this winter, Rowen was traded from L.A. to the Orioles in the trade that sent a Competitive Balance draft pick and Ryan Webb to the Dodgers. Despite outstanding minor league numbers, the O’s didn’t feel they had a roster spot for Rowen, and he was released from his contract, after which he inked a minors pact with the Cubs. Chicago selected his contract to the big league roster last week, but he didn’t get into a game with the Cubs before being designated for assignment.
The addition of Rowen to the Blue Jays organization makes particular sense for a number of reasons. Firstly, the Blue Jays bullpen has been shaky for much of the season, although activity at the trade deadline has helped to shore up the relief corps. (Aaron Sanchez should be pitching out of the bullpen full-time for the rest of the season, Mark Lowe’s addition adds a power arm, and LaTroy Hawkins will add stability as well.) Additionally, Rowen has outstanding Triple-A numbers and a sidearm delivery that generates a huge amount of ground-balls — undoubtedly an appealing trait to a team in a homer-friendly park like the Rogers Centre.
In 46 2/3 innings between Double-A and Triple-A in 2015, Rowen has posted a 1.93 ERA with 6.0 K/9 against 1.4 BB/9. Minor League opponents batted a paltry .235/.267/.302 versus Rowen this season, so at the very least one can imagine that he’d be an option for the Blue Jays in September when rosters expand. However, strong enough numbers with Buffalo could also prompt the Jays to make a move prior to that cutoff.