Indians call up top prospect Jason Kipnis

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Jason Kipnis announced the move himself on Twitter:

I’m Coming Cleveland!!

With Grady Sizemore on the shelf and the Indians in need of a bat, Kipnis will join the team tomorrow.  What exactly he’ll be doing is still unclear.  Kipnis is a former outfielder who moved to second base last year.  The Indians could decide to start him at second over Orlando Cabrera, but they also have an obvious need in the outfield now and may stash him there instead.

The 24-year-old Kipnis was hitting .279/.361/.481 with 12 homers and 12 steals for Triple-A Columbus.  He was actually ice cold as of late, having gone 3-for-31 since play resumed following the All-Star break.  He hit .297/.380/.506 during the first half of the season.

While he’s a left-handed hitter, Kipnis has actually done his best work against southpaws this season, hitting .313/.388/.536 with five homers.  He’s at .262/.348/.454 versus righties.

The Indians wouldn’t call him up now unless they intended to play him regularly.  Whether it’s at second base or in left field, expect to see him in the lineup nearly everyday.

Update: The Cleveland Plain Dealer’s Paul Hoynes reports that Kipnis will play mostly second base and that it “doesn’t sound like he’ll see much, if any, time” in the outfield.

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.