The July 31 non-waiver trade deadline is over a month away, but the winds of change are already blowing.
According to Bill Center of the San Diego Union-Tribune, scouts from the Orioles, Phillies and Blue Jays were in attendance at Petco Park for Edinson Volquez’s start on Saturday night against the Dodgers. The Royals also had a scout in the building, but Center suspects that he was looking into either a corner outfielder or middle infielder.
Volquez went 5 2/3 innings against Los Angeles, yielding five runs — two earned — on two hits and seven walks. He has a disappointing 5.67 ERA and 1.60 WHIP in 16 total starts this season.
The right-hander is scheduled to become a free agent this winter. He’s making $5.725 million in 2013.
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.