Pitcher Kris Bubic won’t go to Omaha after all. The KC Royals recalled him.
Half of the KC Royals’ latest roster transaction is surprising. The other half isn’t.
The Royals, after revealing their 2021 minor league rosters just a couple of days ago and listing Kris Bubic with Triple-A Omaha, reversed course and have recalled Bubic. To make room for him on the active roster, Kansas City optioned out Ryan McBroom.
It’s not his return to the majors that makes the Bubic move surprising, it’s the timing. After pitching in the KC rotation last season, his troubles in spring training this year caused Kansas City to send him out 10 days before camp broke. The lefthander appeared in four Cactus League games and gave up 14 hits and eight runs (seven earned for an 8.59 ERA) in 7.1 innings. His four walks reflected the control difficulties he also experienced in 2020.
Bubic has been working since his demotion at the club’s Alternate Training Site; the Royals haven’t released much more information about the happenings there than they did about last season’s ATS, so little is publicly known about Bubic’s progress. The fact he’s back in the big leagues so soon after being included on Omaha’s roster suggests things are better.
Where to use Bubic is the question. Jakob Junis is pitching well in Bubic’s old spot, so it seems unlikely the Royals will immediately move Junis back to the bullpen. And although Brad Keller’s struggles are disturbing, and Mike Minor’s only a bit less so, it’s probably too early to bump them from the rotation. The club could, of course, be planning to pass either hurler in their next scheduled start.
The KC Royals may be looking for a bit of insurance after a batted ball struck Brady Singer’s left heel and forced him out of Friday night’s game in Minnesota. Singer and Manager Mike Matheny seemed relatively unconcerned after the contest, but Bubic could step in if Singer misses any time. With Singer not set to start again until next week, though, bringing Bubic up now just to be ready in case Singer can’t go seems unlikely.
The Royals, then, may simply plan to continue Bubic’s side work with the big club and use him out of the bullpen for now.
McBroom’s demotion wasn’t at all a surprise. Kansas City likes him and recognizes his talent, but he has no everyday place to play and any pressing present need for an extra pinch hitter ended when the team concluded its two-game series in Pittsburgh Wednesday; without another game in a National League park until May 18 in Milwaukee against the Brewers, the current Royal bench is adequate.
McBroom is 1-for-6 in five games this season. Expect to see him again.
Kris Bubic is back with the KC Royals. For how long remains to be seen.