General manager John Mozeliak has repeatedly said that the Cardinals are comfortable going with 26-year-old prospect David Freese as their Opening Day third baseman, so he can’t be too happy with this news from the weekend:
David Freese was arrested in St. Louis County early Saturday morning on suspicion of driving while intoxicated, Maryland Heights police confirmed Sunday. … Freese’s arrest represents the fourth known alcohol-related incident involving the franchise since March 2007. It is also the second vehicle-related incident involving Freese this year.
The Lafayette High alum suffered serious injuries to both feet last January when his car skidded off an ice-slicked road as he was en route to a charity bowling event. The incident cost Freese a chance to make the major-league club in spring training and eventually required surgery on his left foot.
Mozeliak commented that the Cardinals “are extremely disappointed upon hearing this,” but it’s tough to imagine the arrest really hurting Freese’s chance of claiming a starting job given that manager Tony La Russa was arrested for driving under the influence a couple years ago. Of course, La Russa is a Hall of Fame manager and Freese will be 27 years old in April despite not yet even establishing himself as a big leaguer. In other words Freese may want to stay off the road for a while.
The Royals are in agreement with right-handed reliever Drew Storen on a minor league deal, the team announced Friday. Per Jon Heyman of MLB Network, the deal is worth $1.25 million if the veteran righty breaks camp with the club this spring. Additional, albeit unspecified incentives will be included in the contract as well.
Storen, 31, is coming off of a protracted absence from any MLB duties. After inking a one-year deal with the Reds in 2017, he sustained a right elbow sprain toward the end of the year and underwent Tommy John surgery that October. He was effectively decommissioned for the club’s entire 2018 run and generated little interest around the league this winter, perhaps due in part to the uninspired 4.45 ERA, 3.8 BB/9, 7.9 SO/9, and career-low -0.2 fWAR he posted across 54 2/3 innings during his last healthy season.
While it’s not immediately clear what kind of performance the Royals can expect from Storen in spring training, they’re not exactly in a position to be choosy. Their bullpen ranked dead last among all MLB teams with a collective 5.04 ERA, 4.85 FIP, and -2.2 fWAR last year, and still appears to be in a state of flux as they approach Opening Day. Skipper Ned Yost told reporters Wednesday that he intends to eschew the traditional closer appointment in 2019 and will instead utilize a combination of right-handers Wily Peralta and Brad Boxberger, lefty Tim Hill, and various others as he tackles high-leverage situations in the future.