HomeTrending MLB NewsRoyals return Rule 5 pick to Yankees

Royals return Rule 5 pick to Yankees

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The Yankees announced Sunday that right-hander Matt Sauer had been returned to the organization by the Royals. 

The 25-year-old was selected by Kansas City with the second-overall pick in the 2023 Rule 5 Draft but was designated for assignment earlier this week. Evidently, Sauer cleared waivers, meaning the Royals had to offer Sauer back to New York for $50K. 

The Yankees pulled the trigger on that offer and have assigned him to Triple-A.

Sauer was New York’s second-round pick in the 2017 draft and had spent his career prior to the 2024 season climbing the minor league ladder before ultimately topping out at the Double-A level. The righty was impressive in 14 appearances (13 starts) at the level last year as he pitched to a 3.42 ERA with a 29.5% strikeout rate in 68 1/3 innings of work. 

That performance was clearly enough for the Royals to take a shot on Sauer, and he impressed in 10 2/3 innings of work during Spring Training with a 2.53 ERA and 13 strikeouts.

That spring performance was enough for the Royals to offer Sauer a spot on their Opening Day roster, and he responded by delivering solid results throughout the month of April with a 2.38 ERA in 11 1/3 innings of work. That being said, Sauer’s peripherals left something to be desired as evidenced by his 17% walk rate and 9.4% strikeout rate during that time. 

Unfortunately, Sauer’s results began to catch up to his peripherals in May as he was lit up to the tune of a 19.80 ERA in five appearances throughout the month, prompting the club’s decision to designate him for assignment.

Were the Royals still the rebuilding club many expected them to be entering the 2024 campaign, it’s possible they would have retained Sauer on the roster for longer in hopes he could right the ship. Unfortunately for the righty, Kansas City has played like anything but a rebuilding club this year with a fantastic 34-19 record that puts it in control of the top AL Wild Card spot and just 1.5 games back of the Guardians for first place in a surprisingly competitive AL Central division. 

Given the Royals’ arrival as contenders, the club evidently decided it could not afford to hide Sauer in its final bullpen spot.

That’s great news for the Yankees, who were able to re-acquire Sauer when he went unclaimed on waivers. Now back in the minors with his original club, Sauer figures to continue his development at the Triple-A level and await his next big league opportunity while serving as non-roster depth for New York alongside non-roster veterans such as Phil Bickford and Duane Underwood Jr.

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