Blue Jays clear Edwin Encarnacion to begin minor league rehab assignment

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According to Chris Toman of MLB.com, the Blue Jays have cleared slugger Edwin Encarnacion to begin a minor league rehab assignment tonight with High-A Dunedin.

Encarnacion has been sidelined since July 5 with a right quad strain. His timeline got pushed back a bit following a minor setback late last month, but he now appears on track to rejoin the Blue Jays at some point next week.

Encarnacion, 31, was batting .277/.368/.591 with 26 home runs and 70 RBI over 88 games prior to the injury. The Blue Jays are 14-15 during his absence and have dropped six out of seven. They enter play this afternoon at 61-56 on the year, six games behind the Orioles in the AL East and 1 1/2 games back in the Wild Card race.

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.