Joe Blanton is active for now, but may need elbow surgery

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Joe Blanton came off the disabled list last week after missing four months with an elbow injury and threw a scoreless inning Monday as a reliever, but it sounds like he has little chance of cracking the Phillies’ playoff roster and may still need offseason surgery.

“I don’t need to show up next year and all of a sudden I’m hurt again and we’re back where we were,” Blanton told Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Tommy John surgery has been ruled out, but Gelb writes that Blanton may need “a nerve procedure that could require a six-month recovery.” He’s under contract for $8.5 million next season, so if he’s going under the knife it would need to be at some point in October to make a full recovery likely by spring training.

In the meantime he’ll continue to work out of the Phillies’ bullpen and hope his elbow holds up well enough to make surgery unnecessary.

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.