Brett Gardner is drawing “significant” trade interest

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With last night’s signing of Carlos Beltran, the Yankees officially have a surplus of outfielders. And more than a few teams are wondering if they would consider cashing in on that depth in order to upgrade in other areas.

David Waldstein of the New York Times hears the same. Many have speculated that Gardner could potentially be moved as part of a deal for Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips, though it’s unclear whether there’s legitimate interest from either side. Still, ESPN’s Buster Olney believes that the Yankees are more likely to trade for infield help than pay a high price in the free agent market, possibly for someone like Omar Infante.

On a related note, Reds general manager Walt Jocketty told Mark Sheldon of MLB.com at RedsFest today that a Phillips-to-New York rumor earlier this offseason was leaked by the Yankees as part of a negotiating tactic with Robinson Cano. It could be a little awkward to have those conversations again now, but if their needs match up, why not? WFAN’s Sweeny Murti thinks that a Gardner-for-Homer Bailey deal could make more sense.

Gardner, 30, batted .273/.344/.416 with 51 extra base hits (including a career-high eight homers), 52 RBI and 24 stolen bases this past season and is slated to hit free agency next winter.

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.