Rays designate Heath Bell for assignment

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From Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times comes word that the Rays have designated right-handed reliever Heath Bell for assignment, clearing a 40-man roster spot for the promotion of Nate Karns.

Bell had surrendered 24 hits, eight walks, and 16 runs — 14 earned — in 17 1/3 innings this year for the Rays, who got him from the Diamondbacks this past winter as part of a three-team trade.

The 36-year-old owns a rough 4.91 ERA and 1.507 WHIP in 146 2/3 innings since signing a three-year, $27 million free agent contract with the Marlins prior to the 2012 campaign. That deal ends this fall.

Bell will either be traded, released, or outrighted to Triple-A Durham within the next 10 days.

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.