The hot stove season is colder than Nidavellir before Thor jump-started it, and I don’t see any Gods of Thunder walking through that door (oh please, you saw the movie). So let’s warm ourselves up a bit with some epic home run-admiring.
The home run hitter was Twins catcher Willians Astudillo, who is currently playing in the Venezuelan Winter League for Caribes de Anzoategui. No word if he’s running like the wind, but he’s raking down there, and has led his team into the postseason.
Last night he hit a big eighth inning homer and, oh my God, just watch his reaction:
If he took that knee and watched that ball fly out like that in a major league game every white dude over the age of 50 who had ever played high school baseball would be stricken with a case of the vapors and every bearded pitcher from the U.S. south or western exurbia would give taciturn quotes about how “that’s just not right.” Madison Bumgarner would likely stroke out. Frankly, I’d be worried about him.
The rest of us, however, thank you, Mr. Astudillo. We thank you for bringing us a bit of baseball joy in what has become a slog of an offseason.
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.