There’s a neat article up at the Washington Post today about Major League Baseball’s inroads to China. Compared to the population and, really, compared to interest in basketball and other sports, China’s interest in baseball is really low. But even a low percentage of Chinese population is huge, so it’s understandable that baseball would like to try to tap into that market.
There’s a slide show that accompanies the article. Two takeaways: (1) the sheer number of official MLB logos on the players and around the park at the Chinese training camp baseball has set up; and (2) photo number four, in which baseball presents pics of various major leaguers to demonstrate batting stances.
The logos are weird. If, as I suspect, the league wants to make inroads in China to help sell merch, you’d think they’d give everyone team logos or something cooler than the old Mr. Major League Baseball thing. Maybe I’m over thinking this, though.
I love that they include Vlad Guerrero among guys like Bonds, A-Rod and Miguel Cabrera in the batting stance thing. I just hope they’re not using video of his hitting style to teach the Chinese. That would set back their baseball program two or three decades.
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.