ESPN’s Buster Olney heard from Scott Boras today and quoted the agent as saying that Johnny “Damon will be signed by May 1st; just don’t know where.”
Olney also said that Damon is looking for at least 450 plate appearances, which would be enough to get him at least 100 hits closer to 3,000. Damon is sitting at 2,723 hits right now.
There’s been much speculation that Damon’s quest for 3,000 has made him a less attractive option as a free agent, but while it’s true that Damon is no star, he’d be an upgrade for several teams in left field or at DH. He hit .261/.326/.417 with 16 homers, 73 RBI and 19 steals for the Rays last season. With Tropicana Field playing as such a pitcher’s park lately, that was good for a 110 OPS+. It’s surprising the Indians haven’t made a play for him, given their interest in a pretty similar player in Bobby Abreu.
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.