Brandon DuBreuil of the Manny Does Taiwan blog passes along some Asian news reports which say that Manny Ramirez has been removed from the roster of the Taiwanese team for which he has been playing and will leave the country on June 21. There are mixed reports about why he is leaving, with some saying he will be going to Japan. Whether that is to play for an NPB team or if Japan merely figures in his travel plans is unclear.
As DuBreuil noted in his feature on Ramirez in Taiwan over at Sports on Earth yesterday, Ramirez has been a boon to the EDA Rhinos team for which he has been playing and the Chinese Professional Baseball League as a whole. His team has gone from last place to near the top of the division since he’s arrived and attendance has increased a crazy 412% with TV ratings jumping 221%. Ramirez is near the top of the league in batting average, homers, RBIs and walks.
It’ll be interesting to see if his success in Taiwan has led to a chance to play in Japan. And if so, it’ll be interesting to see if he can still perform at the considerably higher level that the NPB represents.
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.