Dave Dombrowski wanted to bring in another utility bat to compete with left-handed hitter Marco Hernandez. On Thursday, the final day of the Winter Meetings, he used the Rule 5 Draft to do just that. Coincidentally, the Boston Red Sox selection in the draft also reunited them with a familiar face: infielder Josh Rutledge, who the club selected from the Colorado Rockies. Drafting Rutledge cost the team $50,000. Per the rules of the draft, he must remain on the 25-man roster or be placed on waivers and offered back to the Rockies.
Red Sox Select Josh Rutledge in Rule 5 Draft
Rutledge, 27, has spent five seasons in the majors. He first came to the Red Sox in exchange for outfielder Shane Victorino, and spent parts of the 2015 and 2016 seasons with the club. After missing most of last season with a knee injury, Boston outrighted his contract, and he signed a minor league deal with the Rockies, the team he first came up with. However, Colorado did not protect him from the draft, and the Red Sox scooped him back up.
Rutledge has proven to be a useful bat off the bench in the past. In 2015 and 2016, his two seasons with Boston, he hit .284 and .265, respectively. He also collected 13 RBI and a home run in the two years combined (123 total at-bats). His best year offensively actually came back in 2012, his first year in the majors. Then with the Rockies, he recorded a .274 batting average with eight homers, 20 doubles, and 37 RBI, all three career-highs.
What could make Rutledge useful is his ability to hit lefties. He owns a career .313 batting average against left-handed pitching, while fellow righty utility man Brock Holt hits just .103 against them. Holt is better than Rutledge against righties, so the two could make for a good pairing. Rutledge is also a superior fielder to Hernandez, giving him a decent shot at winning the second utility man job.
The Red Sox also lost a couple of players in the Rule 5 draft. The Los Angeles Angels selected RHP Justin Haley, and the Baltimore Orioles chose outfielder Aneury Tavarez. Haley had a strong campaign with Double-A Portland last season, posting a 2.20 ERA in 12 starts, with 59 strikeouts and just 19 walks. Though Haley was selected by the Angels, he eventually landed with the Minnesota Twins in a three-way deal that also involved the San Diego Padres. Tavarez hit well in Double-A last season, to the tune of a .335 batting average, but didn’t continue that in a small sample size with Triple-A Pawtucket.