UPDATE: Mercifully, the Royals have designated Sanchez for assignment.
As if watching Melky Cabrera win All-Star game MVP while hitting .350 for the Giants wasn’t bad enough for Royals fans, now they’re being forced to watch Jonathan Sanchez implode every fifth game.
Sanchez, who was acquired from the Giants for Cabrera this offseason, has been the worst starting pitcher in baseball this year. Or at least the worst among starters who haven’t already been demoted from the rotation.
Sanchez’s latest clunker came last night, as he failed to make it out of the second inning against the weak-hitting Mariners while allowing seven runs. He’s now 1-6 with a 7.76 ERA in 12 starts, with more walks (44) than strikeouts (36) and 109 total baserunners in 53 innings.
That includes 23 runs in 17 innings over his last four starts, during which time opponents have hit .355 with a .462 on-base percentage and .658 slugging percentage off Sanchez. And yet as Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star writes, dumping Sanchez from the rotation still isn’t a sure thing for the Royals.
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.