Breaking: Rays Claim RP Cory Burns, DFA Angel Sanchez

By Drew Jenkins

The Tampa Bay Rays are always looking for ways to add talent and depth to their system, and one way they do that is waiver claims. They did that today, as they claimed pitcher Cory Burns off waivers from the Texas Rangers, according to Tim Dierkes of MLB Trade Rumors. To open up a spot on the 40-man roster, pitcher Angel Sanchez has been designated for assignment according to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times.

Burns, 26, was an 8th round draft pick of the Cleveland Indians back in 2009. He has spent time in the Indians, San Diego Padres, and Rangers’ systems, posting a career minor league ERA of 2.92 along with a 10.9 K/9 and 2.4 BB/9. Everything seemed to be going the right way for Burns last season, when he put together a 2.15 ERA and an 11.5 K/9 in 38 games at Triple-A as well as a 3.18 ERA in 10 major league games. However he could not crack the Rangers Opening Day bullpen thanks to giving up 11 runs in 4.1 innings this spring training, and he has subsequently struggled to a 7.44 ERA in 20 games at Triple-A this year. The good news is that his strikeout rate has remained a decent 8.0 K/9, and he has only walked 2.8 hitters per nine innings. Burns features a funky sidearm delivery, and that helps him be deceptive despite the fact that his fastball only sits in the upper 80’s- low 90’s. The Rays surely love Burns for his changeup, which can be devastating to hitters and does a good job of being hard to distinguish from the fastball. Burns has the makings of a good middle reliever, and maybe a potential setup man. But, he is going to have to get back on track after struggling this year.

Sanchez, meanwhile, came to the Rays from the Miami Marlins just a couple of weeks ago. He features a nice mid-90’s fastball, on top of three promising secondary pitches in his cutter, slider, and curveball as well as a changeup that has flashed potential. He has great upside thanks to the solid 5-pitch mix, however Sanchez hasn’t been able to turn that upside into results. He struggles with command at points, and doesn’t have a great feel for pitching. He isn’t a smart player, and sometimes he can lack maturity. Sanchez has posted a 7.44 ERA this season between the Marlins and Rays Double-A affiliates, including 8 runs allowed in 9.0 innings for the Montgomery Biscuits.

This is an interesting claim for the Rays, as Sanchez has much more upside and value as a starter, but Burns has experienced results in the past as a reliever. The Rays also have a ton of relief depth, and they would be just fine without Burns. By designating Sanchez for assignment, the Rays are exposing him to waivers. However, they probably wouldn’t have made this move if they didn’t think there was a good chance Sanchez will pass through waivers. So if everything works out for the Rays, they will get to keep Sanchez around plus add a promising reliever to the system. It will be interesting to see how it all plays out in the coming days.