Jason Lane, who made six relief appearances when he wasn’t playing the outfield for Triple-A Las Vegas last season, will make a full-time move to the mound next season. The Diamondbacks have signed him to a minor league deal as a left-handed pitcher.
Lane hit 26 homers for the Astros as a 28-year-old back in 2005, but he hasn’t seen the majors since 2007. He’ll play next year at 35, so it’s an awfully late conversion to the mound for the former USC Trojan. But his arm will certainly be fresh.
Overall, Lane is a .241/.314/.457 hitter with 61 homers in 1,208 major league at-bats. He came in at .291/.358/.460 with six homers in 213 at-bats for Toronto’s Triple-A affiliate last season. In his 13 innings on the mound, he had a 4.85 ERA and a 12/2 K/BB ratio.
It seems like a long shot that Lane will turn into a serviceable major league reliever, but if he does, it could lead to some really interesting times in Arizona. The Diamondbacks will likely have right-hander Micah Owings back in their pen next year. It’d be fascinating to see the team try to pair the two once in a while: they could alternate between left field and the mound, with Owings facing righties and Lane taking on lefties.
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.