11:20 PM: This just keeps getting better. According to Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com, bench coach and World Series legend Kirk Gibson will take over as skipper.
11:01 PM: Nightengale adds that general manager Josh Byrnes has also been let go. He was hired in 2005 and given an eight-year extension in 2008. But, uh, so much for that.
10:47 PM: According to Bob Nightengale of USA Today, the Diamondbacks have fired manager A.J. Hinch.
Hinch was named Arizona’s skipper in May of 2009, at the age of 34, after Bob Melvin was fired. At the time, many questioned whether he was the right man for the job, given his lack of experience in the coaching profession. Those doubters can crack a small grin tonight.
Managers often have very little to do with the outcome of games, let alone seasons, but it’s most definitely worth noting that Hinch led the D’Backs to an 89-123 record during his short tenure in Arizona.
General manager Josh Byrnes is also believed to be on the hot seat, but has not yet been canned.
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.