Reds, Storen OK $3M deal

Published 3:52 am Wednesday, January 4, 2017

CINCINNATI (AP) — Right-hander Drew Storen dressed for Halloween as his favorite Reds player when he was growing up. He gets a chance to wear a Cincinnati uniform of his own next season, trying to improve their historically bad bullpen.

The Reds agreed to a $3 million, one-year contract with Storen, the first move to improve Cincinnati’s bullpen. The 29-year-old reliever can make an additional $1.5 million in performance bonuses under the deal announced Tuesday. He would get $500,000 if traded.

Part of Storen’s attraction to the Reds was a chance to play for the team he followed as a youth in Indianapolis. He attended numerous Reds games at Riverfront Stadium and Great American Ball Park.

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“It’s going to be pretty cool,” Storen said during a conference call. “For Halloween, I was Chris Sabo multiple times. It’s nice to have your name on a jersey.”

Storen went 4-3 with a 5.23 ERA in 57 appearances last season for Toronto and Seattle, which primarily used him in roles other than closer. He had three saves in four chances.

General manager Dick Williams said signing Storen could be the club’s most significant move in upgrading the bullpen, which gave up a major league record 103 homers last season and led the league in walks. Overall, the Reds allowed 258 homers, shattering the previous league mark.

Storen will be one of several players competing for the closer job in spring training. The Reds had only 28 saves in 53 chances.

“One of the primary targets for us in terms of addressing our bullpen was getting a guy that did have experience at the back end,” Williams said. “Also, we had trouble throwing strikes last year. Drew has been a consistent performer.”

Storen would earn an additional $50,000 each for appearing in 15, 20 and 25 games, and $100,000 each for 30, 35, 40, 45, 50 and 55 games. He would get $150,000 each for finishing 10, 15, 20, 25 and 30 games.

His best seasons were with Washington, where he is remembered for blowing a save chance against St. Louis in the final game of the 2012 NL Division Series. He went 2-1 with a 1.12 ERA and 11 saves in 2014, and followed it with 2-2, a 3.44 ERA and 29 saves in 2015. He’s aiming to win the closer’s job with the Reds.

“If you’re in the bullpen and you don’t want to close, you have no business being down there,” Storen said.

Another enticement: Storen will be pitching to Tucker Barnhart, who was his catcher at Brownsburg High School for two years.

“When Drew was trying to make a decision, he reached out to me and we talked for probably half an hour about the Reds and the current situation in Cincinnati,” Barnhart said. “It appears some of my information helped him out a little bit.”