B.J. Upton survived the trade deadline in a Rays’ uniform, but there’s still a chance he could have a new home before the end of the season.
According to Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times, Upton was claimed off revocable waivers by an unknown team.
Topkin suspects the mystery team could be the Nationals, who have expressed interest in the past, though Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post wrote earlier this week that “there’s healthy debate within the Nationals about the merits of making Upton their answer in center field.”
The Rays have until Monday to work out a trade with the claiming team, but Topkin believes a deal is unlikely at this time.
Upton, 27, is batting .223/.303/.387 with 17 homers, 58 RBI, 26 stolen bases and a .691 OPS over 499 plate appearances this season. He is making $4.825 million in 2011 and is arbitration-eligible for the final time this winter.
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.