On Sunday, the Kansas City Royals announced they have claimed right-handed pitcher Maikel Cleto off outright waivers from the St. Louis Cardinals and optioned him to Triple-A Omaha.
Though just 24 years of age, the Dominican native has been in the organization for almost 2 ½ seasons, all on the 40-man roster. Cleto had been placed there by Seattle prior to trading him to St. Louis for Brendan Ryan in December 2010.
In other words, 2013 is Cleto’s final option season. Whether with St. Louis or somewhere else, he will either have to prove he is ready for the majors or disappear from any organization’s 40-man roster by next opening day.
Some postulated that the Cardinals moved Cleto to make a spot for recently-demoted Tyler Lyons in Triple-A Memphis’ rotation. In fact, that could be accomplished without risking losing Cleto via waivers simply by a shift to the bullpen. Instead, it seems to me that the Cardinals simply decided Cleto did not have a clear major league future.