The free agent frenzy continues for the Blue Jays, who today announced the signing of 30-year-old journeyman OF Bruce Aven and 25-year-old righty Josh Towers to minor-league deals, with invitations to spring training. Aven has bounced around several organizations; his best year was 1999 with the Marlins, when he appeared in 137 games (more than half his career big-league total) and hit a solid .289-12-70 with an OPS of .814. It's hard to imagine him displacing a Toronto regular, but he should add to the depth in AAA and the spring competition for jobs.
Towers, more of a finesse guy than a thrower, had a frightening 7.90 ERA and gave up 11 HR in just 27.1 IP for Baltimore in the first few weeks of the 2002 season, and his AAA numbers weren't much better. On the other hand, he ran into seven innings of 1-hit ball by Derek Lowe in his debut, a Mark Buehrle 2-hitter through 7 IP in his next outing, and faced a sharp El Duque, who allowed just one run, in his third (and last) 2002 start. In a 15-3 pounding by the Red Sox May 1, Towers was hung out to dry, absorbing 10 earned runs in a 5-inning relief stint, then demoted. The 165-pounder did have a respectable 2001 with the Orioles, going 8-10 as a rookie with a 4.49 ERA in 24 games, 20 of them starts, so maybe he can recapture that form with a new organization. Don't hold your breath; neither of these acquisitions by the surprisingly active Jays will have an impact anywhere but Syracuse.