Carlos Ruiz has been on the disabled list since suffering a concussion on June 26, but the Phillies catcher has been cleared to begin a minor-league rehab assignment.
CSNPhilly.com reports that Ruiz will be in the lineup Thursday night at Single-A Clearwater and barring a setback he could be ready to return from the DL at some point next week.
That wouldn’t leave enough time for Ruiz to show contending teams that he’s healthy enough to be a July 31 trade pickup, but in the first season of a three-year, $26 million contract he could be moved during the August waiver trading period and the Phillies might have to eat some salary to get a deal done anyway.
Before the concussion Ruiz was doing his usual thing at the plate, hitting .257 with two homers and nearly as many walks (31) as strikeouts (35) in 66 games for a strong .363 on-base percentage and .719 OPS. When healthy he remains one of the best catchers in baseball, but at age 35 and with his injury and contract the trade market could be limited.
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.