Matt Garza to return from disabled list Tuesday, Carlos Villanueva headed to bullpen

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Matt Garza has been cleared to return from the disabled list and will make his season debut Tuesday against the Pirates, according to CSNChicago.com.

Garza didn’t throw a pitch after July 21 last season due to a stress reaction in his elbow and was forced to begin this season on the disabled list due to a strained lat. The 29-year-old right-hander posted a 1.17 ERA and 11/4 K/BB ratio in 15 1/3 innings over four rehab starts, including six scoreless innings with Triple-A Iowa on Thursday. Garza is due to become a free agent after the season, so he could become useful trade bait leading up to the July 31 deadline if he can prove healthy and effective.

In order to clear a spot for Garza in the rotation, Carlos Villaneuva will be moved to the bullpen. The 29-year-old right-hander has a solid 3.93 ERA and 36/14 K/BB ratio in 52 2/3 innings over eight starts this season, but Travis Wood and Scott Feldman have had better results and Edwin Jackson isn’t going anywhere after he joined the club on a four-year, $52 million contract this winter. Cubs manager Dale Sveum said Villanueva will be available for any relief situation, not just as a longman.

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.