Somehow, in the list of players the Yankees have erroneously let go in recent years, this man's name never comes up. But shoutout to the Brewers and Phillies for making us aware of Oliver Dunn this week and, shortly thereafter, making us aware that he was recently a Yankee.
2022's Rule 5 Draft was largely hailed as a win for the Yankees. They didn't lose anyone of note from the top levels of the minors (it seemed). Andrés Chaparro snuck through the process (though they, uh, let him go a year later anyway). The Mets stole some relievers and returned 'em. All was well.
Unfortunately, as it turns out, it seems they let a potential contributor out of their grasp last December. In the minor-league portion of the Rule 5 Draft, the Phillies took infielder Oliver Dunn in a silent maneuver. Hurt by the pandemic, Dunn was forced to go right from the low, low minors at Pulaski to High-A Hudson Valley in 2021, commensurate with his age (23). Starting him lower would've been a detriment to both parties. The 11th-round pick posted a .756 OPS at the level before being promoted to Double-A (hey, they tried), where his numbers plummeted to a .643 mark with four homers in 35 games. Dunn only played 36 games in an injury-marred 2022 season, and the Yankees didn't think his .288 average in 29 games at Somerset was enough to justify protecting him.
Therefore, the Phillies gave it a try and ... he thrived. But at least he wasn't a left -- OH, COOL, HE'S A LEFTY.
Yankees lost Oliver Dunn one year before Brewers acquired him from Phillies
Now 26, Dunn is still a flyer who can't be penciled in as a starter, and the Yankees are more likely to give, say, trade acquisition Michael Busch the keys rather than the unproven Dunn. It would be tough to justify a role for him on the 2024 Yankees, even if they'd let him stick around for the breakout.
Congratulations to the Brewers, though, who now reap the rewards of 40-Man Shuffle Day, adding potentially the single most impactful player from this Autumn's AFL after Dunn posted a .902 OPS from the left side at Double-A Reading this summer.
Let it be said that the Phillies gave up on him, too, after they witnessed him laying waste to MLB's showcase league. The Yankees aren't alone in thinking he might not be worthy of a valuable roster spot for the duration of a big-league season in 2024.
Philadelphia maximized the asset, though (instead of crossing their fingers and hoping an unprotected Dunn might be shucked off someone else's roster and returned to them). Now, he'll get every chance to make an impact with a Brewers team that loves to shuffle scrappers like him through their lineup. Hopefully, his breakout trajectory continues (and, hopefully, the Yankees find their own solution).