The Tampa Bay Rays are known for their ability to put together outstanding depth, and this year is no different. With great depth does comes a cost though. Some more than able players must sit at Triple-A even if they deserve a big league opportunity. But even more than that, there are players who the Rays wish they could keep around in their organization that they simply don’t have room for. One of these guys is Juan Sandoval, who was released Sunday, presumably to accommodate Alex Colome‘s return from suspension.
Sandoval is no stranger to the minor leagues, having spent time in the Seattle Mariners’, Milwaukee Brewers’, and Philadelphia Phillies’ systems. In 2011-202, he also spent time in the Mexican League. He then signed with the Rays prior to 2013 on recommendation from Joel Peralta. Sandoval has enjoyed two solid years in the Rays minor league system. He put up a 3.21 ERA between Double-A Montgomery and Triple-A Durahm in 2012, and had followed that up with a 3.12 ERA in Triple-A to start off 2014. He has pitched so well despite being blind in one eye, which he lost as a bystander in a shooting incident in 2006. But despite solid numbers and a feel-good story, there wasn’t room to keep Sandoval around.
In the end it came down to age. At 33-years old, the reality is that Sandoval was never going to receive a big league opportunity over younger guys like C.J. Riefenhauser, Kirby Yates, and others. There was no reason to keep him around in the organization just to take away innings from guys that have higher upside. He was a nice depth piece, and conceivably could have made the big leagues if there were a sudden epidemic of injuries. But with how unlikely that was to happen, it made more sense to let Sandoval seek an opportunity elsewhere. He could have been sent back to Double-A, but once again that would have just taken away innings from younger guys for Sandoval to sit there and pitch innings that meant very little to him. It would have been nice to keep Sandoval in the organization for his performance and his veteran leadership, but in the end it did not make sense for either him or the Rays.
Juan Sandoval is a talented player with a nice story, but he has become the most recent casualty of the Rays depth. He has put up good stats since signing with the Rays before the 2013 season, but at 33-years old he is not getting younger and was too low on the depth chart to make a big league impact anytime soon. Thus, it was best for the Rays and Sandoval to part ways. Hopefully he latches on with another club and fulfills his dream of pitching in the big leagues.