The Cubs aren’t exactly aiming high on the free agent market

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Cubs fans envisioning Jayson Werth or Adam Dunn in the fold can put those thoughts to rest, it seems, because according to the Sun-Times, Jim Hendry isn’t thinking that big:

With a payroll budget that figures to leave little room for big-shot free agents, indications are that general manager Jim Hendry is focusing more on the likes of lefty-hitting Nick Johnson — if the medicals look good enough — for first base and is keeping an eye on former Cub Kerry Wood’s status for a possible bullpen job.

Kerry Wood would be a feel-good thing, I suppose, but the Cubs don’t exactly need him with Carlos Marmol hanging around. And after his successful stint with New York, you figure that Wood would want to close, um, woodn’t you?  As for Nick Johnson: I defended him just as long if not longer than anyone, but at this point, anyone who thinks he’s going to hold up as a starting first baseman probably needs his head examined.

Ultimately the big issue in Chicago is money. As in, they lost with a $145 million payroll in 2010, and Mr. Ricketts wants to cut it back some.  With Alfonso Soriano, Carlos Zambrano, Aramis Ramirez, Kosuke Fukudome and Ryan Demptser under contract to the tune of nearly $80 million for next year alone, there’s not going to be a lot of room to improve the roster via free agency.

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.