Drew Storen, along with teammate Jonathan Papelbon, have been placed on the block by the Washington Nationals. The Nationals are hoping to open up their eighth and ninth innings for Darren O’Day and Aroldis Chapman. That means Storen and Papelbon have to go. Before the addition of Papelbon and subsequent demotion from closer to setup man, Storen was having what should have been an All-Star year. A sign of things to come, Storen lost out on his first career All-Star berth because the Philadelphia Phillies needed a mercy All-Star.
Before the Papelbon trade, Storen had 29 saves and a 1.73 ERA. He finished the year with 29 saves, five blown saves, two losses, a 3.44 ERA, and a broken hand. The injury was suffered after the Stanford University product punched his locker in frustration. That brought on a merciful end to the season for Storen who looked like a puppy who had lost his best friend and slider after the Papelbon trade. The six-year veteran will enter the 2016 season one year away from free agency.
Storen should not command a hefty prospect return in a trade, and will not be very expensive in his final year of arbitration. For this reason, the Baltimore Orioles should strongly consider making a run at the 28-year-old right-hander. Storen had a 1.12 ERA in 56.1 innings in 2014, and was just as good before the trade this year. There is not a huge amount of downside risk in trading for Storen, similar to the Phillies trade for Jeremy Hellickson. If Storen does not perform in 2016, there is no commitment going forward for the team. The upside, however, is an elite relief pitcher with a sub-2.00 ERA who does not give up walks or strikeouts.
Storen is a perfect example of a player who needs a new setting to experience a bounceback season. As the Orioles appear likely to lose All-Star setup man O’Day, Storen could be a perfect target to assume the eighth inning duties in Baltimore while also providing insurance for Zach Britton, who dealt with some minor injuries down the stretch in 2015. Storen has the potential to be just as good as O’Day if everything breaks right. Over the past four seasons, the Orioles have been one of the best teams in the league at maximizing their bullpen’s talent. A year in Baltimore could be a perfect chance for Storen to rebuild his value, even if he does not close. If no one else steps up to bring Storen in as a closer, Baltimore could make for a perfect stop before heading back out to find a closer’s job.
This deal makes sense on paper for the Orioles, but will the Nationals be willing to trade Storen to the team they have spent years in court with battling over television revenues? That remains to be seen, but Drew Storen could be a high-upside pickup for the Orioles if a deal materializes.