As soon as news broke of Ryan Madson needing season-ending Tommy John elbow surgery the assumption was that the Reds would move setup man Sean Marshall into the closer role, but manager Dusty Baker apparently hasn’t made up his mind yet.
Baker told Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com that he’s “been getting that question from all my friends, family, and people in restaurants” but “we have to talk to the guys” because “you just don’t throw somebody in that role.”
Bill Bray, Nick Masset, and Aroldis Chapman are the other closer candidates, but Marshall is clearly the Reds’ best reliever and one of the best relievers in all of baseball, closer experience or not. In two seasons as a full-time reliever Marshall threw 150 innings with a 2.45 ERA and 169/42 K/BB ratio, holding opponents to a .222 batting average and just four homers. If that isn’t closer material, I don’t know what is.
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.