The Los Angeles Dodgers, year in and year out during the Andrew Friedman era, have been the primary targets of opposing teams in the Rule 5 Draft. Evaluators typically rate the Dodgers farm system very highly because of their shrewd drafting and scouting tactics, so others try to reap the benefits and swipe some talent that LA may not have room for.
And it happened again in 2022 (this past December). The Dodgers lost five players in total during the Rule 5 Draft after the event made its return since 2019:
- No. 2 selection - Athletics take 1B Ryan Noda
- No. 3 selection - Pirates take P Jose Hernandez
- No. 18 selection - Brewers take P Gus Varland
- Minor League Phase - Blue Jays take C Kekai Rios and Cardinals take P Jose Martinez
But nobody was interested in top-10 prospect Jose Ramos, who was left unprotected and is now hitting .275 with an .892 OPS at Double-A after playing in the World Baseball Classic? OK, guys!
On top of getting to keep Ramos, the Dodgers had Varland returned to them on Monday after the Brewers designated him for assignment.
Dodgers get pitcher Gus Varland back from Rule 5 Draft after Brewers DFA
The Brewers bizarrely tried to expedite Varland, who had struggled mightily in the minor leagues. He got shelled in five games between High-A and Triple-A in Milwaukee's system, which came after a 6.11 ERA and 1.64 WHIP across 41 games at Double-A with the Dodgers in 2022.
When he reached the bigs, it got even worse. He allowed 11 earned runs on 15 hits and 8 walks across just 8.2 innings of work out of the bullpen. That's an 11.42 ERA and 2.65 WHIP. Since Varland didn't last the entire season on the Brewers roster, the league's rules state he must be returned to the Dodgers if he cleared waivers following his DFA.
"Not every club will make a selection, but those that do pick a player must pay $100,000 to the club from which said player was selected. Rule 5 Draft picks are assigned directly to the drafting club's 26-man roster and must be placed on outright waivers in order to be removed from the 26-man roster in the subsequent season. Should the player clear waivers, he must be offered back to his previous team for $50,000 and can be outrighted to the Minors only if his original club does not wish to reacquire him."- MLB.com
The Dodgers, at this moment, have an incredibly thin pitching staff as more and more injuries begin to take hold. However, it may not bode well for him now that he's returning to the very hitter-friendly Texas League or Pacific Coast League (depending on whether he gets assigned to Double-A or Triple-A).
At the very least, he'll serve as minor-league pitching depth while the Dodgers continue to call up their MLB-ready arms like Gavin Stone and Bobby Miller.