Indians trainer Lonnie Soloff gave an update on Travis Hafner’s status, revealing that the designated hitter is wearing a walking boot and may need season-ending foot surgery.
Hafner was placed on the disabled list yesterday with a sprained right foot, leading to speculate that the Indians will try to claim Jim Thome off waivers from the Twins to temporarily replace him at DH.
Now it turns out the replacement might not be so temporary, although several teams in front of the Indians on the waiver-wire line could make a play for Thome and force them to consider alternatives.
Hafner has hit .281 with 11 homers and an .812 OPS, but this will be the fourth consecutive season in which he fails to play 120 games and he’s batted just .220 with a .642 OPS since the All-Star break.
Injuries have turned Hafner from a middle-of-the-order, MVP-caliber monster to an oft-injured, reasonably productive DH, but because the Indians locked him up long term before the health problems started he’s still owed $13 million in 2012 with a $13 million option or $2.75 million buyout for 2013.
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.