UPDATE: Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times confirms that the deal is done.
12:10 PM: Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reports that the Angels are on the verge of trading catcher Jeff Mathis to the Blue Jays for left-hander Brad Mills.
The Angels acquired Chris Iannetta from the Rockies earlier this week, which made Mathis a virtual lock to be non-tendered. The 28-year-old backstop stands to make close to $2 million in his second year of arbitration, so it’s a wonder why the Blue Jays didn’t just wait to see if he hit the free agent market. I could be wrong here, but I can’t imagine teams were falling over themselves for a .194 career hitter whose defensive contributions can be overstated at times. Anyway, he’ll serve as the backup to J.P. Arencibia next season.
Mills, who turns 27 in March, has an 8.57 ERA and 45/31 K/BB ratio over 48 1/3 innings in brief stints with the Blue Jays over the past three seasons. He has regularly posted impressive numbers in the minor leagues, but barely cracks the mid-80s with his fastball. Perhaps he’ll have a better chance to succeed in the more favorable pitching environment in Anaheim. Hey, at least Dipoto got something of value in return for someone who was going to be non-tendered. That’s a win in my book.
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.