Dustin McGowan returns to the majors after a three-year absence

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The last time Blue Jays pitcher Dustin McGowan threw a pitch in a major league baseball game was in 2008.  In between then and now he has had multiple shoulder surgeries and a knee injury. But for the past month or so he has been throwing rehab games and they’ve been pretty good. In twelve rehab starts between high-A and double-A he has a 2.80 ERA and 35 strikeouts in 35 and a third innings.

And now the Jays have activated him.

Earlier this summer there was talk of turning him into a closer. It’s unclear where the Jays stand on that right now, but his starts in the minors notwithstanding, you’d expect that we’d see him out of the pen sometime this week. But really, given his long road back, seeing him in any role whatsoever would be pretty spiffy.

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.