By signing Mark Buehrle to a four-year, $58 million deal the Marlins made it pretty clear that they were no longer holding out much hope of reeling in Albert Pujols, and sure enough Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com reports that Pujols’ agent has informed Miami that they’re out of the running.
Or as Crasnick put it: “Albert Pujols will not be going to Florida.”
That obviously makes the Cardinals overwhelming favorites to re-sign Pujols, which has been the consensus coming from reporters at the winter meetings most of the day, but a source told Crasnick that Pujols “continues to negotiate with clubs other than the Cardinals.”
If the Cubs are one of those “clubs other than the Cardinals” team president Theo Epstein certainly isn’t leaving any hints, telling Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune that there’s “nothing big we’re close to.”
UPDATE: Jayson Stark of ESPN.com reports that the Marlins have officially withdrawn their offer to Pujols.
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.