Royals General Manager Dayton Moore said last fall he wanted to look for bargains in the reliever market to fill out a bullpen very much in flux. Having already signed veteran Brad Boxberger to a one-year deal, and taking a flyer on a minor league deal with Homer Bailey, Moore could be setting his sights on former Nationals closer Drew Storen. According to reporter Jayson Stark, the 31-year old right-hander is “on the radar” for the Royals.
Storen missed the entire 2018 season following Tommy John surgery. The former first-round pick out of Stanford spent the first six years of his Major League career in the Nationals bullpen, collecting 43 saves in 2011, just his second season. He had a 3.02 ERA and a 3.09 FIP with the Nationals, striking out nearly a hitter per-inning, and was a 2.5 rWAR pitcher as recently as 2014. He broke his thumb slamming a locker door in disgust, prematurely ending his 2015 season. That led to a trade to the Blue Jays, where Storen struggled, leading to a trade to the Mariners. In 2017, he signed a one-year deal with the Reds, posting a 4.45 ERA and a 4.88 FIP with 48 strikeouts in 54 2⁄3 innings.
Storen’s velocity in 2017 was down significantly from the mid-90s he threw during his prime, with a much less effective slider. He was shut down that year in September leading to surgery. He resumed throwing last fall to throw for teams. In addition to the Royals, the Cubs were recently said to be interested in him.
Stark adds the Royals continue to look for “bargain bullpen options” and even as spring training opens this week for most clubs, there remains dozens of pitchers still unsigned.