Brandon Morrow beginning on the season on the disabled list ends whatever competition there was for rotation spots in Blue Jays camp, so 23-year-old top prospect Kyle Drabek has won a starting job.
In fact, Richard Griffin of the Toronto Star reports that Drabek will take Morrow’s place in the rotation and pitch Game 2 behind Opening Day starter Ricky Romero. Brett Cecil, Jesse Litsch, and Jo-Jo Reyes will fill out the rest of the rotation.
Morrow is hoping to miss just one start, but slotting Drabek into the No. 2 spot indicates that the Blue Jays have no plans to send him back to the minors.
Acquired from the Phillies in the Roy Halladay trade and ranked by Baseball America as 29th-best prospect in the game this year, Drabek had a 2.94 ERA and 132/68 K/BB ratio in 162 innings at Double-A last season before going 0-3 with a 4.76 ERA in three September starts for the Blue Jays.
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.