Pretty much backing up Jon Heyman’s report from earlier this afternoon, major league sources tell Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com that the Phillies are interested in re-acquiring Cliff Lee.
The Phillies obviously have other needs to fill after the loss of Chase Utley and lingering concerns about Placido Polanco’s elbow — and they have shown interest in Miguel Tejada and Ty Wigginton, according to Rosenthal — but they also want to upgrade their rotation, with a focus on “top-of-the-rotation types rather than fourth and fifth starters.”
Lee certainly fits that description, and according to one major league source, Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. “will not cut off his nose to spite his face” by refusing to re-acquire the left-hander. In other words, he won’t let his pride stand in the way.
Ultimately, like with most teams in talks with the Mariners, it will come down to how much Lee will cost in the form of prospects. In turn, sources tell Rosenthal that the Phillies view themselves as “a longshot.” Rosenthal writes that they would likely have to give up top prospect Domonic Brown in order to re-acquire Lee, something they are understandably reluctant to do.
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.