KC Royals: Club adds Carlos Sanabria with waiver claim

(Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)
(Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images) /

The KC Royals continue to look for pitchers wherever they can find them and added one Friday.

The KC Royals proved once again Friday that they’re big believers in the old baseball axiom that a club can never, ever have enough pitching.

Although the move came on the same day they outrighted pitchers Mike Montgomery and Kevin McCarthy, the Royals looked to the waiver wire for yet another addition to their increasingly deep mound corps. The club claimed right-hander Carlos Sanabria off waivers from the Houston Astros; he’s the fourth player, and third pitcher, the Royals have added since the season ended—hurlers Peyton Gray and Emael Miliano, and catcher Tyler Cropleyjoined the club previously.

Sanabria turns 24 in January, but he’s already a veteran of seven professional seasons. He signed with Houston as an international free agent in 2014 and, at age 17, appeared in 15 Dominican Summer League games and posted a 2-2, 2.82 ERA record. He’s 19-18, 3.81 in the minors and reached Double A ball, his minor league peak, in 2019.

Sanabria was recently ranked No. 21 on FanGraphs’ Houston list and No. 35 in Prospect1500’s 2020 Astros’ rankings. It will be difficult for him to crack any of the Royals’ pitching-rich top prospect lists.

Possessed of a decent pitcher’s build (6-feet-3, 165 pounds, although he looks a bit heavier), Sanabria joined the Astros for spring training in 2019 and 2020 and pitched three scoreless innings over four games. Houston added Sanabria to its 60-man Player Pool this year and called him up to the majors in early August. He debuted against Oakland in the eighth inning of a lopsided loss to Arizona and gave up two runs, two hits (one a home run) and two walks in one inning.

The right-hander improved four days later and, in what proved to be his last outing of the year, pitched a scoreless inning against Oakland.

Sanabria, now on the Royals’ 40-man roster, relies primarily on a four-seam fastball, then a slider, and occasionally a changeup. He’s averaged almost a strikeout per inning in the minors but suffers from intermittent control problems.

The Royals had room on their 40-man for the former Astro after letting Montgomery and McCarthy go. Both are now free agents, but their departures shouldn’t be interpreted as sure signs the club feels comfortable with its pitching. Both were non-tender candidates: Montgomery hasn’t been effective since joining the club in July 2019 and spent most of 2020 on the Injured List, and McCarthy pitched only five times in the short season and likely had no future in the team’s well-stocked bullpen.

Kansas City, however, seems never to shy away from bringing back players lost to roster-trimming moves, so don’t be surprised if Montgomery and McCarthy reappear in spring training. How and where the club plans to use Sabarina, a full-time reliever since 2018, remains to be seen, but Triple A Omaha is a reasonable expectation.

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The KC Royals added a new pitcher to their repertoire Friday. Time will tell just where he fits in.