Rule 5 Draft – MLB Edition

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.

It boggles the mind to think of what may have been had the Pirates not taken Roberto Clemente from the Dodgers in the 1954 Rule-5 draft. (Photo credit – Biography.com)

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?

Pitchers :
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)

Position Players:
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.

Matt Magill would be among those who I would like to see protected from the Rule-5 draft. (Photo credit – Tim Evearitt)

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.

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6 Responses to “Rule 5 Draft – MLB Edition”

  1. ebbetsfld says:

    Great post, Harold, and I concur with your guesses and opinions. I’d hate to lose Griff Erickson as well.

  2. Ron Cervenka says:

    Ditto on the great post!

    It seems that over time, the Rule-5 draft has hurt more teams than it has helped them, especially in the case of Roberto Clemente with the Dodgers; but it is a necessary evil to prevent teams from burying guys in the minor leagues to use as they see fit rather allowing them an opportunity to progress.

    The Dodgers have not fared too well with their Rule-5 acquisitions over the recent past, nearly all of whom have been pitchers.

    With as weak as the free agent market is this off-season, particularly with starting pitching, the Dodgers really need to be aware that other teams will most likely be fishing their farm system – especially with Colletti and the gang focusing heavily overseas. Needless to say, the next three weeks are going to be very interesting around the old Hot Stove, that’s for sure.

    As much as I like Griff and would hate to see him leave, the Dodgers’ catcher situation is pretty well locked up for the next several years (given the relatively young ages of A.J. Ellis and Tim Federowicz). As such, Griff’s best hope of making it to the Bigs is probably with some other team.

    • Bluenose Dodger says:

      I doubt Griff would be taken as he would have to spend the entire year on a team’s 25 man roster. I don’t think he is ready for the big time yet and would probably be a third catcher which most teams cannot afford taking a roster spot. 2013 will be a big year for him. That is, to make his mark and become a target in the Rule 5 draft. A switch hitting catcher, ready for MLB would be a prime target, also one the Dodgers may not give up if Griff breaks out a bit.

  3. OldBrooklynFan says:

    Harold: “A player must have signed at age 18 or 19 and spent 4 years or 5 years respectively in the organization. In short they must be 22 years of age and not protected.”
    I’ve been wanting to find out that part of the ruling for several years, thanks for that information, Harold.

    I’d just like to know if this is true for players signed younger or older than 18 or 19 years of age. Would 22 still be the age of eligibility?

    • Bluenose Dodger says:

      OBF – I have checked that on several sites. I must admit there is a lot of confusion around Rule 5. It sounds as if a player could be younger or older that 22, on some sites, others don’t take into account being younger than 18 or older than 19. Below is a response to your question, from SB Nation, which makes sense.

      “Long story short: a club has 5 years to evaluate a player who signs his first pro contract at 18 years old or younger (from the June 5th preceding signing his contract), but only 4 years to decide on a player who signs at age 19 or above. Those prospects who are not placed on the 40 man roster that meet these requirements are eligible for the Rule 5 Draft. As a result, teams must place their most valuable prospects on the 40 man roster.”

  4. OldBrooklynFan says:

    Thanks Harold, I feel that I have a very good idea of when a player becomes illegible for the Rule 5 draft.

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