The Philadelphia Phillies are getting part of the 2015 Washington Nationals back together.
Tuesday, Bob Nightengale of USA Today reported that the Phillies have inked veteran reliever Drew Storen to a minor-league deal that will include an invite to major league Spring Training. Nightengale says that if Storen makes the Phillies roster, he’ll earn $750,000.
It would be ironic for Storen to have success in Philadelphia as a teammate of Bryce Harper. In July of 2015, he lost his closer’s job – despite solid production – when the Nationals acquired Jonathan Papelbon from the Phillies. Late in that season – one where Harper won the National League MVP but the Nationals missed the playoffs – Papelbon grabbed Harper by the throat during a dispute in the dugout.
Since 2015, Storen, now 32, has struggled to find success (or health) at any level.
He split the 2016 season between the Toronto Blue Jays and Seattle Mariners, posting a 5.23 ERA in 57 games. In 2017, he posted a 4.45 ERA in 58 games for the Cincinnati Reds. He had Tommy John surgery in September of 2017, which not only ended that season, but kept him from throwing a pitch during the 2018 season. He signed a minor-league deal with the Kansas City Royals last winter, but was released after posting a 7.84 ERA in nine game at the Double-A level.
Though they spent over $130 million on Zack Wheeler and Didi Gregorius, the Phillies have been relatively quiet in terms of adding relief help this offseason. They seem to be banking quite a bit on the health of Seranthony Dominguez, who is said to be “chomping at the bit” to get back on the mound after a UCL injury cost him the bulk of the 2019 season. Even if that happens, the Phillies don’t have a ton of certainty in their bullpen.
In that sense, taking a flier on Storen couldn’t hurt. If he proves in Spring Training that he’s not the pitcher he once was, he’ll either be sent to Triple-A Lehigh Valley or released. It’s not impossible, though, that he rediscovers the form he once showed with the Nationals a few years after having Tommy John surgery. If that happens, it would be a shot in the arm for a front office that has struggled at building bullpen depth.
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