The Royals executed a curious roster move on Tuesday morning, claiming a reliever off waivers and designating for assignment an outfielder — with the hopes of retaining the outfielder, according to people familiar with the situation.
The reliever was Patrick Schuster, a 23-year-old left-hander who was the first pick in the Rule 5 draft last winter. The Royals claimed him from San Diego. To do so, they removed Carlos Peguero from the roster.
The maneuver had less to do with Schuster, who has never pitched above Class A, than Peguero. The outfielder impressed a segment of the team’s front office this spring. After acquiring him for cash considerations from Seattle, the Royals watched Peguero hit .313 with a .998 on-base plus slugging percentage in the Cactus League.
Despite the numbers, Peguero stood little chance of making the club. The team dreams on the potential of Justin Maxwell, who is expected to make the roster along with speedy outfielder Jarrod Dyson. Still, some team officials are curious about Peguero.
By designating Peguero for assignment, he enters a 10-day holding period. He does not have to be placed on waivers until the time passes. In the interim, the team can attempt to flip him in a trade, should another club express legitimate interest or, perhaps, experience an outfield injury.
The season will have begun by the time Peguero lands on waivers. Across the game, most of the spots on 40-man rosters will be full. Thus the Royals stand a better chance of slipping Peguero through and assigning him to Class AAA Omaha.
That means Schuster plays an odd role. In order to designate Peguero for assignment, the Royals had to claim someone. Schuster fit the bill.
The initial suspicion when the team claimed him was he would contend with fellow southpaw Francisley Bueno for the final spot in the team’s bullpen. Manager Ned Yost has said in recent days the team sought upgrades.
Schuster struck out 45 batters in 44 1/3 innings for Arizona’s Class A affiliate last season. His ERA was 1.83.
Yet he is mere fodder here. Yost said he had not spoken with general manager Dayton Moore about the Schuster, and repeatedly referred to him as “depth.” The designation makes little sense. As a Rule 5 pick, the team needs to keep him on their active roster for an entire season. Otherwise, he must be returned to Arizona.
“Don’t really know much about him,” Yost said. “Just heard about him. It’s one of those things where we’re just looking for depth.”
Schuster was not in the Royals clubhouse on Tuesday. He was not assigned a locker. He won’t need one. But Peguero might.