There was no talking Josh Hamilton into taking part in the Home Run Derby, so Robinson Cano went with some pretty good fallbacks Monday: Jose Bautista, Prince Fielder and Mark Trumbo.
Bautista leads the AL with 26 homers at the moment, one more than Hamilton. Cano and Trumbo both have 20 apiece, while Fielder lags behind with 12. All told, the AL Home Run Derby team has 78 homers this year, compared to 68 for Matt Kemp’s NL squad, which is comprised of himself, Giancarlo Stanton, Carlos Gonzalez and Carlos Beltran.
Besides Hamilton, David Ortiz, who participated the last two years, opted out of consideration for the AL squad this year. Adam Dunn, who is third in the AL with 24 homers, is a surprising omission, but he too may have declined.
Cano was named captain of this year’s squad by virtue of winning the Home Run Derby last year. He hit 12 homers in the finale to edge Adrian Gonzalez.
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.