When productive veteran outfielders like Johnny Damon and Jermaine Dye are having trouble finding work it makes sense that not-so-productive veteran outfielders like Darin Erstad may be headed for retirement.
Bill Plunkett of the Orange Country Register recently spoke the Erstad, who “sounded like a happy father, perfectly content if he never plays another major-league game.” Here’s more from the 36-year-old who hasn’t cracked a .700 OPS since 2004:
I’m at peace with with whichever way it goes. Things can happen in a hurry. I’m just staying in shape and keeping an open mind to anything. At this point, I’m just living life. I’m going to be ready if it comes. If not, I’m going to be the best dad I can be. I’m pretty sure if I don’t sign with anyone, I’m still going to be pretty busy in March.
Erstad remains a good defensive outfielder, but his bat has gone from overrated and mediocre to just plain bad. He hit .194 in 150 plate appearances off the Astros’ bench last season and has batted .247/.299/.344 in 374 games over the past four years. During that time the only outfielders with more plate appearances and a lower OPS are Joey Gathright and Carlos Gomez.
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.