At one point, Kyle Drabek was a big deal. He was a top-20 prospect desirable enough to be a centerpiece in a trade package for peak Roy Halladay.
But he never realized that potential with the Toronto Blue Jays, due in large part to a second Tommy John surgery in 2012, and a drop in velocity afterward. Comparing his minor-league stats to his MLB ones, it seems like big-league hitters punish his strikes, so he doesn't throw them nearly as often.
There's no need for the rumor mill now, as the White Sox claimed Drabek off waivers from the Jays on Friday. The Sox moved Nate Jones to the 60-day disabled list to make room on the 40-man roster, and that's what makes this move especially curious.
For one, the 40-man already faces a major crunch as is. My mental accounting had Jones' spot going to Geovany Soto. The Sox signed him to a minor-league deal, which allowed them to postpone such cuts until the front office could use spring training to evaluate the players on the fringe.
Beyond the initial 40-man roster obligations, Drabek is also out of minor-league options, and the Sox already have a couple such situations in their bullpen to consider.
Given his struggles, it's entirely possible the Sox claimed him to see if they could pass him through waivers. If they can outright him to Charlotte, great. If they can't, that's fine. That sort of thing. He put together a respectable line in the Grapefruit League (7 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 HR, 3 BB, 7 K), but spring numbers don't change many minds alone.
If the Sox really like the cut of Drabek's jib, then they will have to remove somebody from the 40-man roster. And the body count could be higher if they want to add Micah Johnson, Matt Albers and/or a fifth starter. I suppose there's a chance Drabek could be that disposable spot starter, as he's on the roster while guys like Chris Beck, Scott Carroll, and Brad Penny aren't, but let's give him time to put on a White Sox uniform first.
While we wait for that to happen, here are the most obvious candidates on the roster bubble.
Eric Surkamp: Dan Hayes reported that the Sox are already trying to move him. It's easy to see why. The bullpen has two lefties locked in with Zach Duke and Dan Jennings, and Carlos Rodon could make three if the Sox decide that's the best way to break him in. Throw in Onelki Garcia as a potential breakout candidate in Charlotte, and Surkamp seems squeezed out.
Raul Fernandez: Nobody on the outside seems to know anything special about him, other than he's 24 years old and still hasn't pitched above Winston-Salem. After 3⅓ ineffective innings this spring, we're still searching for a reason.
Andy Wilkins: He confirmed the scouting reports' worst fears during an abysmal cup of coffee in September. He's 26, and with Jose Abreu and Adam LaRoche locked in at the first base/DH spots, it's hard to see him getting another shot, even by accident.