Athletics, George Kottaras avoid arbitration with one-year deal

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The Athletics announced late this afternoon that they have avoided arbitration with catcher George Kottaras by agreeing to a one-year contract. Terms aren’t yet available.

Kottaras was arbitration-eligible for the second time this winter. The 29-year-old earned $700,000 last season while hitting .211/.351/.415 with nine home runs, 31 RBI and a .766 OPS over 85 games between the Brewers and Athletics. He threw out 19 percent (5-for-26) of attempted basestealers.

Derek Norris figures to get most of the playing time behind the plate in 2013, so Kottaras will function as his backup. However, his power and patience is pretty useful to have around.

Royals sign Drew Storen to minor league deal

Drew Storen
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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.