The Royals have announced a minor-league deal with veteran righty Drew Storen, as Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic first reported (via Twitter). He’ll earn at a $1.25MM level if he makes it to the majors, per Jon Heyman of MLB Network (via Twitter), with $900K in incentives also available, per MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan (Twitter link).
The deal includes an invite to participate in MLB camp. It also allows Storen to opt out on March 25th if he has not been added to the 40-man roster, Flanagan adds on Twitter.
Storen is still working back from Tommy John surgery, which he underwent in September of 2017. He missed all of the ensuing campaign. Now, nearly a year and a half removed from the procedure, Storen will look to get back on track.
There’s more than just health to overcome for the former first-round pick, who’s now 31 years of age. Storen hasn’t been effective since wrapping up his time with the Nationals, a six-year run in which he threw 334 innings of 3.02 ERA ball with 8.6 K/9 against 2.6 BB/9. In the following two seasons, he managed only a 4.82 ERA in 106 1/3 innings.
The biggest change over the years has been a precipitous drop in velocity. While he once sat in the mid-nineties with his pair of fastballs, Storen dropped about 2 mph between 2015 and 2016 and did so again in the ensuing season. That led him to move away from his four-seamer in favor of his sinker, change and slider. While Storen was able to generate grounders on about half of the balls put in play against him in 2016 and 2017, he also lost swinging strikes and allowed more long balls. Without the threat of his full-throated heater to keep hitters honest, Storen got far fewer swings and misses on pitches out of the zone and coughed up a career-high 3.8 walks per nine in his most recent campaign.