Aaron Cook is in the best shape of his life

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We can add Aaron Cook to the ever-expanding “best shape of his life” list, because the 31-year-old right-hander shed 20 pounds during the offseason and Jim Armstrong of the Denver Post is now calling him “Aaron Cook Lite.”
Armstrong notes that Cook lost so much weight that he actually “planned to gain a few pounds before the start of the season,” but now he may just stay at his new-and-improved 200 pounds:

That was kind of the plan, but I’m having a hard time putting it on. This is the first year I’ve ever had that problem. I usually gain five or 10 pounds at spring training. I feel good. My legs feel good, my body feels good. I’m thinking, if I can stay at 200, it would definitely help.

To recap: Not only is Cook in the proverbial best shape of his life, he’s having trouble getting back into worse shape. Almost makes me want to root against him, but I don’t really have energy for rooting thanks to the new 1,000-calorie-per-day diet that has me looking as svelte as Prince Fielder on a bad day. Must be nice.

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.