Jaime Garcia, Jason Motte nearing rehab games

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The Cardinals announced Tuesday night, tweets Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, that injured pitchers Jaime Garcia and Jason Motte have been cleared to begin minor league rehab assignments this weekend with Double-A Springfield.

Garcia is set to make the first of what will likely be several rehab starts on Sunday against the Double-A affiliate of the Rockies. He hasn’t appeared in a major league game since May 2013 because of chronic shoulder troubles and the Cardinals can’t be sure of what they’re going to get from him this year.

Motte is on his way back from Tommy John elbow surgery. At almost 12 months removed from the procedure, he’s hitting just 92-93 mph with his fastball. Motte averaged 96.8 mph with his fastball in 2012, and he could spend quite a bit of time in the minor leagues considering how much of his past effectiveness relied on throwing heat.

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.