Last year at around this time, the Braves and Royals engaged in a waiver war over right-hander Jairo Cuevas. The Royals, guided by former Atlanta assistant GM Dayton Moore, claimed him from the Braves on Oct. 24, the Braves reclaimed him on Nov. 27 and the Royals reclaimed him on Dec. 10.
The Royals ended up winning the battle, as they were able to non-tender Cuevas and then re-sign him on Dec. 13, allowing them to keep him in the organization without using a 40-man roster spot on him. Cuevas went on to miss the entire 2009 season after recovering from shoulder surgery, and he’ll be back in Royals camp as a non-roster player next year.
There will be no waiver war this time. However, there could be some controversy over the fate of one Juan Abreu. The Royals’ Double-A Northwest Arkansas affiliate announced Friday that Abreu had been re-signed to a minor league contract.
The Braves, apparently, disagreed. They announced the signing of Abreu to a major league contract on Tuesday and added the 24-year-old right-hander to their 40-man roster.
Time will tell if Abreu is worth the fuss. He can reach the mid-90s with his fastball and he’s struck out 10.9 batters per nine innings during a four-year minor league career, but his command is awful and he struggled in his first attempt at Double-A last season. Overall, he had a 3.67 ERA and a 53/36 K/BB ratio in 41 2/3 innings between high-A Wilmington and Northwest Arkansas last season. He’ll almost certainly open next year back in Double-A.
The Rays acquired minor league reliever Drew Smith from the Tigers on Friday, per a team announcement. The move will close the loop on the trade the two teams began in January for backup outfielder Mikie Mahtook.
Smith, 23, pitched his first full season in Single-A West Michigan in 2016, turning in a 2.96 ERA, 4.3 BB/9 and 11.5 SO/9 in 48 2/3 innings. The right-hander is still several levels away from making any impact on the Rays’ major league roster, but appears to be progressing steadily in two seasons of pro ball and has delivered two runs, four walks and 12 strikeouts in his first 11 2/3 innings at High-A Lakeland this season. Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports that he’ll be reassigned to the Rays’ High-A Charlotte this week.
Gregorius, 27, suffered a strained right shoulder while playing in the World Baseball Classic last month. He’s in Friday’s starting lineup, batting sixth against the Orioles.
Last season, Gregorius hit .276/.304/.447 with 20 home runs and 70 RBI in 597 plate appearances.