The Nationals lamented losing outfielder Erik Komatsu to the Cardinals in the Rule 5 draft at the Winter Meetings in Dallas, posturing that he was an important piece of organizational depth. Now, they might have another crack at reacquiring the 24-year-old, who came to Washington from the Brewers in exchange for utility man Jerry Hairston Jr., last July 30.
This morning, the Twins designated Komatsu for assignment to open up a roster spot, meaning he will have to pass through waivers in order to be sent outright to the minor leagues. Basically, Minnesota needed a roster spot for a pitcher, and Komatsu was the odd man out.
But because the Twins picked Komatsu up on waivers from the Cardinals on May 4, the same Rule 5 stipulations apply - mainly that the team he's with keeps him on the major league 25-man roster or offers him back to the Nationals for half of the $50,000 price it cost St. Louis to draft him.
Komatsu hit .219 with one RBI in 15 games for the Twins, after posting a .211 average in 15 games with the Cardinals. Because he's still considered a project, it's difficult for a major league club to burn a roster spot for him, especially a club with any thoughts of contending for the playoffs. He's a career .302 hitter with 24 homers, 166 RBIs and 57 steals in four minor league seasons.
The Nationals will know in a few days whether he's passed through waivers, and when that happens, the Twins will either need to offer him back to Washington or work out a trade to keep him in their system. of course, another team could claim him, too.
Twins manager Ron Gardenhire seemed resigned to losing Komatsu back to the Nationals. When asked if he thought a deal could be made to keep him in the Minnesota organization, Gardenhire told the St. Paul Pioneer Press, "That's probably not going to happen."