Cubs promote prospect Kris Bryant to Triple-A

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It’s not quite a promotion to the big leagues, but the Cubs have moved up stud third base prospect Kris Bryant from Double-A to Triple-A after he hit .355 with 22 homers, 20 doubles, and a 1.160 OPS in 68 first-half games.

As recently as a couple weeks ago Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer indicated that the team planned to keep Bryant at Double-A for most and perhaps even all of this season despite his destruction of Southern League pitchers, but those plans have changed. Fittingly, his final act at Double-A was winning the Home Run Derby at the All-Star game Tuesday night.

Bryant was the No. 2 overall pick in last year’s draft after putting up incredible power numbers at the University of San Diego and through 104 professional games he’s hit .348 with 31 homers, 34 doubles, and a 1.132 OPS. If he continues to dominate at Triple-A it’ll be hard for the Cubs to avoid calling the 22-year-old up by September at the latest.

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.