Earlier today, Rule 5 pick Jamie Hoffmann cleared waivers and was returned to the Dodgers. The Dodgers will pay $25,000 for Hoffmann's return, half the initial price the Yankees paid for the pick. Hoffmann hit .130/.259/.174 in 26 plate appearances this spring. He drew three walks against one strike out and was one for two in stolen base attempts.
Barring an Elijah Dukes signing, it appears that Marcus Thames has won the fifth outfielder competition, despite his equally anemic .107/.167/.107 line in 29 plate appearances this spring and poor play in the field. Setting aside the useless, small sample size stats of the spring, it appears that the club values Thames' right handed power more than Hoffmann's versatility, defense, and speed. Thames may only do one thing well, but apparently that's the one thing the club is seeking from this spot. The team is lacking in right handed power from left field and the bench, but have players with skill sets similar to Hoffmann's in Brett Gardner and Randy Winn.
Speculation abounds that the Yankees may make a trade with Los Angeles, potentially sending an extraneous fifth starter candidate/longman such as Chad Gaudin or Sergio Mitre, to secure Hoffmann's rights. This would slightly reduce payroll and would free the Yankees from carrying Hoffmann under Rule 5 obligations, giving them the flexibility to stash him at AAA rather than carry him on the Major League roster all year. If that were to happen, it would create quite a log jam in the Scranton outfield with Hoffmann, Colin Curtis, Greg Golson, Reid Gorecki, Jon Weber, and David Winfree, though Hoffmann figures to be of more value than the rest of them.
On the flip side, such a deal would also mean that the Yankees had to trade two Major League pitchers - Brian Bruney and whoever goes west - in order to obtain a AAA outfielder. None of those pitchers should be considered a major loss, but I'd like to think that for the price of two Major League caliber pitchers the team could at least secure a fifth outfielder in whom they are confident.
In the end, it doesn't appear the pick has worked out well for the Yankees. The Rule 5 Draft isn't designed for teams like the Yankees and it was unlikely from the start that they'd obtain anyone of value from the pick. For every Johan Santata, Joakim Soria, or Shane Victorino that gets selected in the Rule 5, there are hundreds of Jamie Hoffmanns and the like who don't pan out. Still, Brian Cashman executed a shrewd trade with the Nationals to secure the top pick in the draft. It's unfortunate they weren't able to find a usable part with the pick of the litter.
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