It’s not a big deal, but the Blue Jays and Royals have pulled off a trade this evening which will send infielder Danny Valencia to Toronto and catcher Erik Kratz and right-hander Liam Hendriks to Kansas City.
Valencia, 29, is batting .282/.328/.382 with two home runs and 11 RBI over 119 plate appearances this season. While he does most of his damage against left-handed pitching, he could see semi-regular playing time at third base until Brett Lawrie is ready to return from a fractured right index finger.
Kratz has hit just .198/226/.346 in 84 plate appearances at the major league level this season, but he slugged 18 home runs over 118 games with the Phillies from 2012-2013. At the very least, he has a chance to be an upgrade over Brett Hayes as Salvador Perez’s backup. Hendriks, 25, owns an ugly 6.06 over 31 starts and two relief appearances in the majors. With a 2.33 ERA in Triple-A this year, he’ll serve as rotation depth with his new club.
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.