The Pittsburgh Pirates have released right-handed pitcher Angel Sanchez. He split last season between Altoona and Indianapolis, looking like he regained his prospect status, until he went down with an arm injury in an early August start. He required Tommy John surgery, which wasn’t performed until after the season, so that put him out for the entire 2016 season and likely would have kept him out of Fall Instructional League action as well.
Sanchez was claimed off waivers by the Pirates in July 2014 and finished that season at Altoona, where he made five starts and one relief appearance. The 26-year-old Sanchez began 2015 back with Altoona, where he posted a 2.79 ERA and a 1.18 WHIP in 13 starts, before being promoted to Indianapolis. Before going down with his injury, Sanchez had a 2.55 ERA in ten starts with Indianapolis, improving his strikeout rate and WHIP over his Altoona numbers.
His age likely worked against him in this decision. He will be 27 years old when he returns and in the last year of his minor league contract before free agency. Between 2011-13, he was rated as a top 30 prospect with the Dodgers(2011-12) and the Marlins(2013). That took a hit when he bounced around during the 2014 season, but a strong 2015 season prior to the injury, made it look like he could possibly make a contribution with the Pirates this season.
UPDATE: Wednesday, 2:35 PM: Angel Sanchez has already re-signed so this ended up being similar to the Casey Sadler situation, where the Pirates had to release and rework a deal with a player who won’t appear in a game this season. Sanchez said that he signed a minor league deal. He doesn’t reach minor league free agency until after the 2017 season, so he will continue to rehab in the Pirates’ system this year and then have one more year before he’s a free agent.