Cardinals Return Rule 5 Pick Ben Jukich

Rule 5 left-hander could not make St. Louis' major league roster and trade could not be worked out with Cincinnati to keep him.

The St. Louis Cardinals are returning Rule 5 selection, left-handed pitcher Ben Jukich, to the Cincinnati Reds. Rumors surfaced on Wednesday that the Cardinals were approaching the Reds to discuss a trade to enable them to keep the 27-year-old, but that apparently did not progress to a satisfactory conclusion.

Jukich was only given one game of official spring action, allowing one run on two hits and a walk in two innings of work. He also uncorked a pair of wild pitches. That contest was on March 5, almost two weeks ago.

With a system short of dependable and healthy left-handed relief at the upper levels, it seemed the Cardinals would have had a use for Jukich had they been able to work out a deal to get him to Triple-A.

There is also a possibility that another one of the 28 organizations may decide to claim Jukich off outright waivers before he can return to Cincinnati. If claimed, the other club would also be required to keep Jukich on their 40-man roster the entire 2010 season, same as the Cardinals.

Following the move, the Cardinals 40-man roster drops to 38 players. This helps create additional room in case any of the eight non-roster invitee players still in camp end up being among the final 25 to head north. They include infielder Ruben Gotay and seven pitchers – Lance Lynn, Eduardo Sanchez, Fernando Salas, Rich Hill, Evan MacLane, Pete Parise and Oneli Perez.

Update (6:10 p.m. CDT Thursday, 3/18):
The Cardinals have confirmed that Jukich has already cleared waivers and his been returned to the Reds. Cincinnati paid $25,000, one-half of what the Cardinals spent in December to select Jukich.

Brian Walton can be reached via email at Also catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog. Follow Brian on Twitter.

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