TODAY: Rutherford was outrighted to Triple-A after clearing DFA waivers, the Sox announced.
MARCH 29: The White Sox announced Tuesday that they’ve designated outfielder Blake Rutherford for assignment. His spot on the 40-man roster goes to fellow outfielder Adam Haseley, whose previously reported acquisition from the Phillies has now been formally announced.
In jettisoning Rutherford from the roster in exchange for Haseley, the Sox are swapping out one former first-round pick and top prospect for another. Rutherford, 24, was the 18th overall selection by the Yankees back in 2016. The Sox acquired him alongside Ian Clarkin and Tito Polo in the 2017 trade that sent David Robertson and Todd Frazier to the Yankees. Haseley was the eighth overall pick by the Phillies a year later in 2017.
Heading into the 2017 season, Baseball America ranked Rutherford as the No. 45 overall prospect in baseball, but he’s yet to deliver on the tools that made him a consensus first-rounder and a high-end prospect post-draft. The former prep standout turned in an impressive .293/.345/.436 batting line (120 wRC+) in a pitcher-friendly High-A setting back in 2018.
In two full seasons since that time, however, Rutherford has batted .265/.319/.365 in Double-A (98 wRC+) and .250/.286/.404 in Triple-A (80 wRC+). Along the way, he’s seen both his strikeout and walk rates trend in the wrong direction, ultimately drawing a free pass at just a 4.4% clip while fanning in 25% of his plate appearances in Triple-A Charlotte last year.
Rutherford has a minor league option remaining to Haseley’s two. He’s also yet to make his big league debut and has been used increasingly as a corner outfielder in recent years, while Haseley has had some big league success (2019) and is still viewed as a quality defensive option across all three outfield positions. The White Sox will have a week to trade Rutherford, place him on outright waivers or release him.