Today is the day all major league teams must set their 40 man rosters. The Rule 5 draft is scheduled for December 6th during the annual Winter Meetings. Players not on the 40 man roster today are eligible for this draft. The other qualification for the Rule 5 draft is that players must have signed at age 18 or 19 and spent 5 or 4 years respectively in the organization. In short, they must be twenty-two years of age and not protected. Players that are drafted must go on the new team’s 25 and 40 man rosters. Teams pay a $50,000 fee for every player and the player has to remain on the drafting team’s 25 man roster for the full season or be returned to his original team. Drafted players can be traded but then must remain on his new team’s roster for the full season.
Ordinarily not many players are taken or lost in the Rule 5 draft. At least not many remain on the drafting team’s 25 man roster for a full season. However, the draft does have a significant purpose. The intent of the draft is to prevent teams from loading up on talented minor leaguers who would otherwise have a chance to play in the big leagues. As the Washington Nationals’ director of player development Doug Harris I indicates, “It’s a good sign for your organizational depth if other teams are fishing in your minor league waters.” The draft does have the potential to provide a windfall for low budget teams who are diligent with their scouting or even uncover a gem for the more affluent teams. For instance, the following is a partial list of high profile Rule 5 draftees: Roberto Clemente, Jose Bautista, Johan Santana, Josh Hamilton, Bobby Bonilla, Dan Uggla, Shane Victorino, R.A. Dickey.
The Dodgers do have a bit of history with the Rule 5 Draft, formerly known as the Rookie Draft. Who will ever forget that Roberto Clemente was plucked from the Montreal Royals by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1954. Montreal was the Dodgers’ AAA club in the International League. The Dodgers thought they had hidden Clemente on the bench in Montreal. Shane Victorino was taken from the Dodgers twice in the Rule 5 draft. He was initially drafted by the Padres in 2002 and returned to the Dodgers. He was then drafted by the Phillies in 2005. In 2005 D.J. Houlton became a Dodger for the year. He is now pitching quite well in Japan. In 2009 the Mets, on behalf of the Dodgers, drafted Carlos Monasterios and immediately traded him to the Dodgers.
There is no chance the Dodgers will select a player in the Rule 5 draft this year and give up a spot on the 25 man roster for 2013. The need simply isn’t there. The larger problem is to determine who should be dropped from the present 40 man roster and what minor league players should be added. The present 40 man roster actually has only 36 players on it. At least two of those spaces, perhaps more, will be needed for players yet to be signed. Ryu Hyun-Jin and Zack Greinke are definite possibilities as free agents. It is also thought the Dodgers may yet sign or trade for a reliever and possibly a third baseman.
The immediate task then is to have the adjusted forty man roster ready today. Speculation is always interesting but more often futile, especially with the new management. We perhaps now look for something big and tend to forget the little things that may well be quite significant. Who would you remove from the present 40 man roster? That probably cannot be done without deciding who should be protected in the minor league system. That is, which players that the team values might be taken in the draft. The players that might be protected would be those that are on a definite path to MLB, would serve as depth protecting the team from injury, or would be possible trading chips the team did not want to lose in a draft. Players most easily kept on the MLB 25 man roster are relief pitchers.
This is the list of players in the Dodgers minor league system that are available in the Rule 5 Draft. The Dodgers must decide which players, if any, to protect. Which players would you protect?
Steve Ames (RHP), Matt Magill (RHP), Aaron Miller (LHP), Andres Santiago (RHP), Michael Antonini, (LHP) Javier Solano (RHP), Jose Dominguez (RHP), Cole St. Clair (LHP), Juan Rodriguez (RHP), Steve Smith (RHP, John Michael Redding (RHP), Jordan Roberts (LHP), Greg Wilborn (LHP), Carlos Frias (RHP)
Tony Gwynn Jr. (OF), Pedro Baez (3B), Brian Cavazos-Galvez (OF), Angelo Songco (1B),J.T. Wise (C), Rafael Ynoa (2B), Alfredo Silverio (OF), Kyle Russell (OF), Blake Smith (OF), Gorman Erickson (C), Nick Akins (OF), Austin Gallagher (1B, Michael Pericht (C), Casio Grider (SS/2B), Nick Buss (OF), Chris Jacobs (1B), Pedro Guerrero (IF), Matt Wallach (C), Ozzie Martinez (SS), Bladimir Franco (3B)
I have thought about this for some time and am no closer to an informed decision than I was some time ago. The problem is that we don’t know what the Dodgers’ overall game plan is and what might be coming down the tracks. I also find it difficult not to play favorites.
Who would I drop from the present 40 man roster if spaces are needed? I expect Justin Sellers would be a first choice with similar type players in front of him. I would like to think that Juan Uribe would no longer command a roster spot but expect that will only happen if he starts to stumble through 2013 as he did 2012. Scott Van Slyke, and John Ely might be candidates, although the outfield situation is not settled yet. I say Ely instead of Fife as the Dodgers seem to value Fife more. If need be Elian Herrera could be exposed to the draft and most likely not taken, as John Ely wasn’t last year.
Who would I add.? That is, who might be taken? I am not sure any players would be drafted from the Dodger unprotected list. However, my personal favorites to add would be Matt Magill, Steven Ames, Aaron Miller and Javier Solano. I think Ames and Solano provide organizational depth as relievers, Miller, a lefty, might be converted to relieving and Magill is definitely a successful undervalued starter, although probably an end of rotation guy. Tony Gwynn Jr. is a possibility.
Who the Dodgers drop from the 40 man roster and who they add may well give us a glimpse into their future thinking during the off season.