The move didn’t make much of a blip on MLB radar screens, not even in baseball-mad St. Louis or with the Texas Rangers.
But it is a curious one considering the circumstances.
The Cardinals signed left-handed veteran Wade LeBlanc on Thursday, and he made his debut that night, only a day after he took the rolling out on his minor-league contract with the Rangers.
He had made three starts for Triple-A Round Rock over the span of 10 days.
Those starts were pretty good, as he posted a 2-0 record with a 2.50 ERA. While the Cardinals signed LeBlanc to pitch out of their injury-ravaged bullpen, it seems like LeBlanc could have helped the struggling Rangers.
So, why isn’t he?
The answer is the same reason why Hyeon-Jong Yang was designated for assignment Thursday. At 35 and 33 years old, LeBlanc and Yang don’t fit with the Rangers’ objective this season of evaluating and developing young talent.
“Given where we are, we would have had to take somebody off the roster,” general manager Chris Young said. “It means that we’re swapping out young for LeBlanc. Is that an upgrade? Does that meet our goals for the future? Probably not.”
The Rangers expect Yang to clear waivers and return to Round Rock, where the Rangers had optioned him Wednesday. They designated him for assignment Thursday to clear a spot on the 40-man roster after making a waiver claim on right-hander Dennis Santana.
LeBlanc was signed as minor-league depth, but the Rangers didn’t need him. The deal allowed him to opt out of the contract if he were to receive an offer to pitch for an MLB team while not being in the Rangers’ plans.
That’s common practice in baseball.
The Rangers paid LeBlanc a small minor-league salary as he kept his arm fresh and in front of scouts after starting the season with the Baltimore Orioles and later pitching at Triple-A Nashville in the Milwaukee Brewers’ organization.
Round Rock outfielder Delino DeShields isn’t quite in the same situation as LeBlanc and Yang. At 28, DeShields can play all three outfield spots, runs like a deer and entered Friday hitting .300.
“He could be an injury away,” Young said.
But DeShields would also need a 40-man spot, and the Rangers don’t have much wiggle room.
That’s why LeBlanc is pitching for the Cardinals and Yang is riding the waiver wire.