The Royals have brought back three familiar faces, announcing that outfielder Bubba Starling, right-hander Carlos Sanabria, and left-hander Foster Griffin have all been signed to minor league contracts. The trio were all cut loose by the Royals within the last two weeks, with Starling being non-tendered and Sanabria and Griffin both electing free agency after being designated for assignment by the club.
Starling is the best-known name of the bunch, owing to his status as the fifth overall pick of the 2011 draft. A local product from Gardner, Kansas, Starling never put things together in the minors (and considered retiring in 2017) until posting an .806 OPS in 285 PA for Triple-A Omaha in 2019, which earned him his first trip to the big leagues. Over 261 plate appearances over the 2019-20 seasons, Starling has a .204/.246/.298 slash line against MLB pitching.
Sanabria was claimed off waivers from the Astros in October. The righty (who turns 24 in January) made his Major League debut in 2020, tossing two innings over two games. An international signing out of Venezuela in 2014, Sanabria has spent his entire career in Houston’s organization, posting a 3.81 ERA, 2.15 K/BB rate, and 8.9 K/9 over 354 minor league innings and working exclusively as a reliever over the last three seasons.
Griffin also made his MLB debut in 2020, throwing 1 2/3 hitless innings for the Royals on July 27 before suffering a tear in his UCL during that first outing. Griffin will now miss the entire 2021 season while recovering from Tommy John surgery. The Royals drafted Griffin with the 28th overall pick in 2014, and he has a 4.77 ERA, 2.19 K/BB rate, and 7.2 K/9 over 708 innings in Kansas City’s farm system.