Frank Francisco won't be available for Rangers in the ALDS

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Frank Francisco was optimistic enough after throwing from flat ground last week that he hoped to return from a month-long back injury to join the Rangers’ bullpen for the ALDS, but according to Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that’s been ruled out.
Ron Washington told Wilson that the most recent MRI exam “showed improvement in the muscle but not enough for him to start throwing off a mound.” He could still be added to the postseason roster for the ALCS or World Series, but first Francisco will have to show that he’s healthy by rehabbing in Arizona.
Francisco began the season as Texas’ closer before losing the job to Neftali Feliz following back-to-back ugly outings in early April, but recovered to post a 2.84 ERA and 57/16 K/BB ratio in 50 innings prior to landing on the disabled list last month. He would have been a nice addition to what is already a very strong playoff pitching staff, but now he’s a long shot to pitch in October.

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.