Twins have 'real interest' in Jim Thome

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Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis Star Tribune did some investigating after a rumor began circulating out of Chicago that Jim Thome is close to signing with the Twins and much to my surprise he found that … well, there’s actually some truth behind it:

I called a Twins official, expecting to hear that this is totally far-fetched, and turns out they do have real interest in Thome and haven’t ruled out their chances of signing him. Probably not today, mind you, but it’s getting late in the offseason and the prices for free agents are falling fast. The Twins are bargain hunting, and if Thome were to accept a bench role at a severely reduced price–he made $13 million last year–there could be a match.

Just yesterday I wrote about how Thome remained a very productive, useful player despite seemingly getting almost no interest as a free agent, so the Twins are smart to pursue him. With that said, it’s tough to see a real fit for Thome in Minnesota, because the Twins already have Jason Kubel as a left-handed designated hitter and for better or worse (mostly worse) seem committed to playing Delmon Young every day in left field.
Now, moving Kubel to left field, sending Young to the bench, and installing Thome as the primary DH would be a massive upgrade to the lineup, but I’d be surprised if the Twins were actually considering that option. Thome can’t hit lefties or play defense at this point, but he hit .262/.383/.498 against right-handers last season. That works out to an .881 OPS versus righties, which would have ranked fourth on the Twins sandwiched between Justin Morneau at .906 and Michael Cuddyer at .803. He can still mash.

Royals sign Drew Storen to minor league deal

Drew Storen
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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.