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Royals release Clay Buchholz

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He had an opt-out for today.

MLB: Spring Training-Toronto Blue Jays at Philadelphia Phillies Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Royals announced they have released right-handed pitcher Clay Buchholz from his minor league contract. He had an opt-out that could be exercised if he was not assigned to the Major League roster by today.

Buchholz missed most of the 2017 season with a flexor tendon strain, and was rehabbing in the minors with the Royals in April after signing his minor league deal. In 16 minor league innings between Northwest Arkansas and Omaha, he had given up just 10 hits and two runs, with nine strikeouts and seven walks. He allowed just one run over five innings on Saturday for Omaha.

The move seems a bit puzzling if Buchholz is healthy and has shown his effectiveness. Sure, a 33-year old may not fit well in a rebuild, but then why did they sign him in the first place? It is possible the Royals signed Buchholz as insurance for their rotation. Eric Skoglund may have been ticketed for the minors with Buchholz set to replace him, but a strong outing his last time out may have given them more confidence to stick with him. Or perhaps Buchholz was signed just in case the Royals were semi-competitive, and now with the team struggling with a 7-21 start, it is clear they need to rebuild and see what they have with younger pitchers like Skoglund and Trevor Oaks.

Buchholz is a two-time All-Star, but has struggled to stay healthy much of his career. He averaged just 20.7 starts per season in the four years leading up to 2017, when he pitched just 7 13 innings.