A’s giving Sonny Gray extra time between starts

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Whenever a team skips a young starter’s turn in the rotation it leads to questions about the health of that young starter, especially after the Cardinals did that with Michael Wacha last week while claiming they were simply giving him “rest.” And now he’s on the disabled list with a shoulder injury.

This time it’s the A’s giving 24-year-old Sonny Gray some extra time off between starts, with manager Bob Melvin telling Joe Stiglich of CSNBayArea.com that it’s merely “a little bit of a break” and nothing to do with any arm problems.

Oakland will restructure the rotation around a pair of off days and in doing so Gray will get nine days off between starts rather than the usual four.

Gray had a very impressive debut for the A’s last season and has picked up right where he left off this year, starting 15 games with a 2.91 ERA and 86/34 K/BB ratio in 99 innings. They’ve been relatively cautious with his workload by not letting Gray go past 115 pitches in any start and letting him top 110 pitches just once, but he has topped 100 pitches in five consecutive outings leading up to this extra time off.

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.