Bomber Bites With Jumping Joe–Yankees Make Smart Move Protecting Mason Williams


The Yankees added former top prospect Mason Williams to the 40-man roster on Wednesday ahead of the upcoming Rule V draft, protecting him from being picked. There was a lot of talk that Williams might be left unprotected due to the fact that the Yankees are already stocked with left-handed hitters would can play center. So why waste a roster spot on Williams after he hit just .223 in Double-A in 2014?

The Yankees obviously haven’t given up on Williams having the capability to be a big league outfielder in the future. In fact, they think his glove is big league ready now. A source told Chad Jennings of The LoHud Yankee Blog that a team could “hide [Williams] in an extra (outfielder) role).  [And there was] clearly upside and athleticism present to allow continued growth.” 

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Thus the Yankees were afraid that they Williams would actually be taken in the Rule V draft and they would lose a guy who was the best position player prospect just two years ago for nothing. They still believe that he could develop into the player they projected a few years ago. Even with the plethora of outfielders on the Yankee roster at the moment, Williams could also be a valuable piece in an upcoming trade.

Mandatory Credit: Chad R. MacDonald.

Williams has no real shot of making the majors when the Yankees report to Tampa in a few months. It would take an epidemic of injuries and Williams hitting better than he ever has before. He will likely start the year in Triple-A or even Double-A and see if he can recover his hitting stroke which has dropped significantly as he got to the higher levels of the minors.

However, there is hope that something in 2015 Williams will make his major league debut. No one really expects Carlos Beltran to remain healthy. Jacoby Ellsbury has been injury-prone throughout his career. There is a better than average chance that the Yankees will need some additional reinforcements in the outfield this season.  Williams could fill that role.

Keeping Williams on the roster gives them options. Williams could come up for spot duty during the season as his glove is already for the show.  He could also be part of trade for an upgrade later this offseason or during the season.  If the Yankees didn’t add him to the roster, he would likely have been picked in the Rule 5 draft and the Yankees would have lost the slow developing talent.