Casey Blake’s latest attempt to get over season-long back problems will begin tonight with a rehab assignment at Single-A.
Steve Dilbeck of the Los Angeles Times reports that Blake will start slow, debuting as a designated hitter, which likely means the 38-year-old is at least another week away from potentially coming off the disabled list.
This is Blake’s third stint on the DL this season and in between injuries the impending free agent has hit just .243 with four homers and a .731 OPS in 44 games during the final season of a three-year, $17.5 million deal that came after the Dodgers gave up Carlos Santana to get him from the Indians in mid-2008.
If he gets healthy and puts together a productive couple weeks in August perhaps they can get a low-level prospect for him prior to the secondary August 31 trade deadline, but probably not.
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.