KANSAS CITY -- The Royals, in a roster swap of right-handed pitcher Friday, added Jairo Cuevas and released Kip Wells.
Cuevas was claimed off outright waivers from the Atlanta Braves organization and took Wells' spot on the 40-man roster. Wells was given his unconditional release.
On Aug. 22, Cuevas had season-ending surgery on his right shoulder. He had pitched in just seven games last summer for Double-A Mississippi and the Rookie Gulf Coast Braves.
"I think he's projected to return in late July or August," Royals general manager Dayton Moore said. "Then we'd have to re-assess where he is and at what level he should compete."
Cuevas was originally signed as a third baseman and was converted to a pitcher while Moore was in the Braves' front office.
"He was projected to be a power starting pitcher when he got hurt," Moore said. "We're just taking a chance. He's got tremendous makeup, but he's got to come back from the surgery."
Cuevas, 24, from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, has no Major League experience. In 2007 for Class A Myrtle Beach, he had a 6-12 record and 3.55 ERA in 25 starts. In 2005 for Rookie League Danville, he went 6-1 with a 1.95 ERA and was the team's Most Valuable Player. He was 7-12 for Class A Rome in 2006.
Wells, 31, was signed as a free agent last Aug. 18 after being released by the Colorado Rockies. In 10 relief appearances for the Royals, he was 0-1 with an 8.71 ERA and gave up 10 runs, 10 hits and 11 walks in 10 1/3 innings.
Last season, while with the Rockies, Wells underwent surgery for a blood clot in his right hand. In his 10-year career, he has a 65-94 record with six Major League clubs, primarily as a starter.
Wells was eligible for free agency this fall. With his departure, second baseman Mark Grudzielanek is the only potential free agent on the Royals' roster.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.