Indians demote former stud setup man Vinnie Pestano to Triple-A

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Not so long ago Indians right-hander Vinnie Pestano was one of the best relievers in baseball, throwing 132 innings with a 2.45 ERA and 160 strikeouts between 2011 and 2012, but he struggled with elbow problems last season and is now headed back to the minors at age 29.

Pestano allowed six runs in three appearances to begin this season and his fastball averaged just 88.7 miles per hour, compared to a career average of 92.0 mph. Clearly something still isn’t right with his arm, but he’ll go to Triple-A instead of the disabled list.

Cody Allen has taken over for Pestano as the Indians’ primary setup man for closer John Axford, but getting Pestano healthy and anywhere close to his old self would be a huge boost to Cleveland’s chances in the AL Central.

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.