Yankees lose three minor league pitchers in Rule 5 draft

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- New York Yankees farmhands were three of the 10 picks in the MLB portion of the Rule 5 draft, including the first two picks overall.

Right-hander Mitch Spence was the top pick by the Oakland Athletics. He was followed by right-hander Matt Sauer, selected by the Kansas City Royals, with right-hander Coleman Crow the last pick of the draft by the Texas Rangers.

Sauer has the best prospect pedigree of the group as a second-round pick from a California high school in the 2017 draft who received a $2.5 million bonus, equivalent to a late first-round pick.

The draft is a staple of the winter meetings and is where clubs can add players to their big league roster if they aren't on another club's 40-man roster, with a selection price of $100,000. If the player sticks on the big league roster for the full season, the selecting team is granted the player's full rights, but if he's ever optioned during the season, he's offered back to his original team for half of the selection price.

The Yankees have been hit especially hard by the Rule 5 draft in recent years, more than any other MLB club. Over the past eight Rule 5 drafts, Yankees minor leaguers have accounted for 20 picks out of the 120 picks made, or 17% of total. If all 30 clubs had equal ability to sign and develop players, the share of players drafted should be evenly split amongst 30 clubs, or 3% from each club.

The most notable players selected from the Yankees who stuck with their selecting clubs and have excelled in the big leagues include Boston Red Sox right-hander Garrett Whitlock (who has posted 3.9 WAR and signed a $18.75 million extension in 2022) and Cleveland Guardians right-hander Trevor Stephan (posted 2.1 WAR, signed a $10 million extension in 2023).

Left-hander Nestor Cortes was selected by the Baltimore Orioles in 2017 and made their Opening Day roster but was returned later in the season to the Yankees; he has posted 5.3 WAR since being returned.

In last year's Rule 5 draft, the top six picks all spent the full season on the big league roster and their full rights transferred to their new clubs, while the next seven picks were all returned to their original clubs.

The most intriguing non-Yankees pick in this year's draft was the Guardians selecting third baseman Deyvison De Los Santos from the Arizona Diamondbacks. He has massive power and has played 123 games in Double-A but is still just 20 years old.