Mariners settle on Brendan Ryan at shortstop and Jack Wilson at second base

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When the Mariners acquired Brendan Ryan from the Cardinals in mid-December they initially hinted that he’d be playing mostly second base, with Jack Wilson remaining at shortstop, but after evaluating them for the past few weeks manager Eric Wedge has decided to flip-flop the two infielders.

Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times reports that Ryan will play shortstop with Wilson at second base, although the infield picture figures to change again once top prospect Dustin Ackley is deemed ready for a call-up.

Ryan has graded out as one of the elite defensive shortstops in baseball, with Ultimate Zone Rating showing him as 11.4 runs above average per 150 games there. Wilson has a similarly strong defensive reputation, but at age 33 his range has slipped a bit and he’s unlikely to be better than Ryan. Of course, whether Wilson will thrive at second base after never playing an inning anywhere other than shortstop for his entire 10-year career is another question.

Either way, the Mariners figure to have one of the best-fielding and worst-hitting double-play duos in baseball.

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.