Discussions between the Cardinals and Rays have “centered on Chris Archer,” Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. Nothing appears to be imminent, and it’s worth noting that trade talks between the two sides fizzled out last month. Still, as club president John Mozeliak suggested Saturday, the Cardinals haven’t completely ruled out additional upgrades as they prepare for the upcoming season.
The 29-year-old Archer has drawn considerable interest around the league following a strong performance in 2017. The Rays’ ace went 10-12 in 34 starts, earning his second All-Star nomination with a 4.07 ERA, 2.7 BB/9 and 11.1 SO/9 in 201 innings. In September, a brief bout of forearm tightness raised some concerns about his durability, but no major structural damage was revealed and it seems unlikely that he’ll be plagued by the injury again in 2018.
The Cardinals may not have a strong need for another starting pitcher, as they’re currently poised to enter the 2018 season with a rotation featuring Carlos Martinez, Adam Wainwright, Michael Wacha, Luke Weaver and newcomer Miles Mikolas. There’s no question that a starter of Archer’s caliber would help them gain an edge over the rival Cubs, however, especially as Lance Lynn has already flown the coop, Alex Reyes is still working his way back from Tommy John surgery and Mikolas has yet to prove that he can duplicate the 2.25 ERA, 1.1 BB/9 and 9.1 SO/9 he posted in NPB last year.
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.