The Rule 5 gets axed, the Yankees get boned after ditching three players for no reason. The Rule 5 takes place, the Yankees get screwed by their chief rival. On and on and on. Can a franchise get a break for once?
In what’s sure to be the only transaction news for months, all 30 MLB teams gathered to plunder unprotected minor-league talent from each other on Wednesday afternoon. While the big-league portion of the Rule 5 comes with restrictions (selected players must either be kept on the active roster all year long when healthy, or they’re returned), the minor-league section is a free-for-all.
Naturally, it also produces fewer “sure things” than the annual MLB Rule 5, which has led to stars like Johan Santana, Akil Baddoo, and, yes, Garrett Whitlock switching sides.
You can throw surety out the window whenever the Red Sox and Yankees are involved, though. For the second time in as many years, Chaim Bloom and the Sox used their Rule 5 opportunity to swipe someone out of the Bombers’ minor-league ranks for free.
This time, it’s 27-year-old righty Brian Keller, who shouldn’t be a weapon for the Sox next year, but probably will be one anyway.
Yankees lose RHP Brian Keller to Red Sox in Rule 5 Draft.
It’s only a depth piece … it’s only a depth piece … it’s only a depth piece …
Keller was an extremely lucky pitcher in 2021, surviving Triple-A with sterling numbers despite a monstrously elevated 1.61 WHIP. It was his second taste of the level, following a disastrous cameo back in 2019 (6.91 ERA in 27.1 innings).
Clearly, though, the Sox see some value in Keller, whether it be as a minor-league innings eater or a (gulp) middle relief option at the big-league level, which would help with Whitlock’s theoretical transition to the rotation.
Keller’s never quite popped in the Yankees farm system, but he’s also never posted a full-season ERA above 4.00. Plus, all the Red Sox do is hit on 18 and and walk away with blackjack. Why wouldn’t they be confident in turning Keller into something viable?
The Yankees made a pair of selections, too, swiping ex-Pirates pitcher Steven Jennings and ex-Astros top prospect Manny Ramirez.
We’ve got to ask, though: why don’t they ever snag Red Sox just to do it? It’s much more fun when these two teams exist just to troll and poison pill one another; you get Whitlock, we dump you an Ottavino, who’ll eventually end your season. The wheel keeps turning.
Every time the Sox steal one of our arms and turn them into something that works, it feels like a cruel inside joke. Like Michael Scott once said, we’d love to be included in one of those someday.