Despite Scott Boras’ best efforts, the Tigers still aren’t taking the bait on free agent closer Rafael Soriano. According to Chris Iott of MLive.com, Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski said this week that he’s pretty satisfied with the guys in his bullpen and isn’t going to add anyone unless it’s the right fit.
“It would have to be the right guy, the right situation, all those types of things,” Dombrowski said. “We’re not just out to sign somebody to fill a hole. We’ve got enough arms.”
As of now, the Tigers will likely carry seven relief pitchers on their Opening Day roster, including five right-handers and two left-handers. Phil Coke is a lock from the left side while the Tigers plan to have a competition for the other spot. Meanwhile, Joaquin Benoit and Octavio Dotel are locks from the right side while Dombrowski believes Al Alburquerque and Bryan Villarreal deserve to be on the roster. This leaves one final spot, and by all accounts, prospect right-hander Bruce Rondon will get a chance at the closer role.
I don’t doubt that Rondon could eventually close for the Tigers, as he throws hard and put up some impressive strikeout totals this past season, but it would be a pretty big gamble for a team with designs on the World Series to trust someone who has never thrown a pitch in the major leagues. This could drag on for a while, but with no other obvious fit for Soriano, I suspect they’ll eventually be a match.
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.