NEW YORK—The means by which the Yankees acquired the rights to the first pick in the Rule 5 draft was an example of out-of-the-box thinking. Their evaluation of Jamie Hoffman, however, was 100 percent mainstream.
Three days prior to the Dec. 10 draft, New York traded righthander Brian Bruney to the Nationals, stipulating that Washington take a player at the Yankees' behest with the first overall pick.
That turned out to be Hoffman, a physical 25-year-old right fielder with the Dodgers.
"He has great makeup and ability, and we project him as an everyday player,'' general manager Brian Cashman said.
Hoffman signed with the Dodgers as a nondrafted free agent out of New Ulm (Minn.) High in 2003. The NHL's Carolina Hurricanes made him an eighth-round pick in the hockey draft that same year.
While Hoffmann won't be a big league regular this year, Dodgers third base coach Larry Bowa believes that day is coming.
"You look at him for the first time and (the swing) is ugly," he said. "But he will figure it out. He is a tough guy. He reminds me of Hunter Pence. It looks ugly, but he gets it done. He is a big worker.''
If the Yankees don't make room for Hoffman on their 25-man roster, they must place him on waivers. If he goes unclaimed, then the Dodgers can reacquire him $25,000—or half the Rule 5 draft fee.
"The Dodgers last year (outrighted) him from their (40-man) roster, and everybody put claims on him. But (the Dodgers) had a prearranged deal to sign him back. They gave him a $25,000 signing bonus, so he denied all the claims,'' Cashman said.
Hoffmann went just 4-for-22 (.182) with one homer in 14 games with the Dodgers last season. It was a different story in the minor leagues, where in 97 games with Double-A Chattanooga and Triple-A Albuquerque he batted a combined .291/.390/.466 with 10 home runs and 64 RBIs.
The Dodgers' player development staff regarded Hoffmann as the system's best defensive outfielder in each of the past four seasons.
"This guy has some thump," Cashman said. "He can play center, right and left and is a plus defender. We are going to find out about him.''
• If Hoffman sticks with the Yankees, he could push speedy center fielder Brett Gardner to Triple-A.
• The Yankees lost two relievers in the big league portion of the Rule 5 draft: lefty Zack Kroenke (sixth pick, Diamondbacks) and righthander Kanekoa Texeira (14th pick, Mariners).