Scott Kazmir signs two-year, $22 million contract with A’s

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UPDATE: Jim Bowden of ESPN.com says it’s a two-year, $22 million deal, which is a sneaky/interesting move for the A’s in a market where Ricky Nolasco just got $49 million for four years and guys like Phil Hughes and Jason Vargas got $8 million per season for three and four years.

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Recent reports suggested the A’s weren’t feeling good about their chances of re-signing Bartolo Colon and apparently they’ve moved on in a big way: According to Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com they’re “close to signing” left-hander Scott Kazmir.

Kazmir was a dominant young starter with the Rays and then rapidly deteriorated to the point that he posted a 5.34 ERA in independent ball at age 28. He made an incredible comeback with the Indians, racking up strikeouts at the same rate that made him a star in the first place, and finished strong with a 43/4 K/BB ratio in September.

Kazmir is a huge risk, but he’s still just 29 and looked an awful lot like his old self this year. Based purely on upside, he’s one of the best free agent pitchers available this offseason and certainly brings a much different skill set and long-term outlook to the table than the 40-year-old Colon.

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.