Wednesday, November 20th is the day we have all been waiting for. Well, I expect none of us have really been waiting for this date and many baseball fans may not even be aware that some rather serious decisions, or perhaps lack of a decision, will be made on this day that will significantly affect some personnel changes at the MLB level three weeks later. November 20th is the date on which major league teams must have their 40 man rosters firmed up in anticipation of the Rule 5 Draft which takes place on December 12.
Players not on 40 mans rosters are eligible for the draft under the following conditions:
- They were signed when they were 19 or older and have played in professional baseball for four years
- They were signed at 18 or younger and have played in pro ball for five years.
A team that selects a player in the Rule 5 Draft pays $50,000 to the team from which he was selected. The receiving team must then keep the player on the Major League 25-man roster for the entirety of the next season, and the selected player must remain active (not on the disabled list) for a minimum of 90 days. If the player does not remain on the Major League roster, he is offered back to the team he was selected from for $25,000. If his original team declines, the receiving team may waive the player.
Under most circumstances players exposed to the Rule 5 Draft are Class AA and Class AAA players. However, the draft is not as simple as it sounds, namely because of Latin America signings. This from Baseball America:
“Latin players are eligible to sign at age 16 while U.S., Canadian and Puerto Rican players are not eligible to be drafted until after their senior year of high school, which means most U.S. players don’t sign a pro contract until they are 17-19 years old. So many Latin players sign contracts at age 16, but cannot play in a game until the following season. It also means that some Latin American players end up exposed to the Rule 5 draft when they are still in Class A. It is odd that a 16-year-old player can become eligible for the Rule 5 draft as a 21-year-old, while a college player drafted at age 20 won’t become eligible until he’s 24.”
The Rule 5 Draft which predates the First Year Player Draft (Rule 4) was implemented to try to prevent teams from stockpiling players. It was a somewhat vain attempt at equalization among major league teams. The best known and most important Rule 5 Draft selection in MLB history was that of Hall of Famer Roberto Clemente. The Dodgers certainly demonstrated their superior scouting system in signing Clemente on February 19, 1954, but not their slight of hand by trying to hide him on the bench in Montreal. He was selected by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the Rule 5 Draft on November 22, 1954. The rest is wonderful history. Other notable Rule 5 Draft selections include Jose Bautista, Johan Santana, Josh Hamilton, Bobby Bonilla, Dan Uggla, Shane Victorino and R.A. Dickey.
There is no possibility the Dodgers will select a player in the Rule 5 draft this year or in the near future. They may have a player or players in which other teams might be interested, but not with strong interest. It seems they dodged a bullet in 2012 as Jose Dominguez was left unprotected and I’m really surprised he wasn’t snapped up last year. The majority of their players at the AA and AAA levels not on the forty man roster are eligible for the draft. Fortunately, key players such as Joc Pederson (2010), Zach Lee (2010), Chris Reed (2011) and Ross Stripling(2012) are not eligible for the Rule 5 Draft.
In searching the rosters of the Chattanooga Lookouts and Albuquerque Isotopes I can only find a player or two who might draw interest from other teams. Perhaps there are a few others that drafting teams might want to have a look see at and wouldn’t mind returning them to their original organization if they don’t meet expectations.
The one player I would add to the 40 man roster to protect him is Yimi Garcia, a right handed reliever with the Double-A Chattanooga Lookouts. I mentioned him several times in the past two seasons and actually felt that he was ahead of Onelki Garcia on the depth charts. This is his fifth season in the Dodger organization and the 23-year-old Moca, Dominican Republic native finished the 2013 season with 4-6 record and an impressive 2.54 ERA. In 60.1 innings he allowed 35 hits, 14 BB, 85 K’s and had an excellent 0.812 WHIP. His stuff isn’t electric but he certainly misses bats and his progress has been slow but steady – good enough to be selected to represent the Dodgers in the prestigious Arizona Fall League.
Another guy that has interested me for about three years is Pedro Baez. I was calling back in 2011 to convert him to pitching, which the Dodgers finally did in 2013. He has a cannon for an arm but had a noodle for a bat. Pedro has made progress but would be down the Dodger depth chart perhaps further than he should be to occupy a 40 man roster spot. On the other hand I expect Drew Butera, Justin Sellers and Nick Buss won’t be kept on the 40 man roster. Mike Baxter is also an interesting one to be protecting. While there are other players to add to the Dodger roster there is certainly room for Pedro on that roster although his stat line would not appear to either make him a candidate for protection or to be taken in the Rule 5 Draft after only one year of pitching. However, his arm may cause one or the other to happen even though he turns 26 in March. Perhaps the possible reward outweighs the risk as he could be returned to the Dodgers if he was not successful at the MLB level.
Beyond that the only player I can think of that a team might have interest in is Red Patterson. Already 26 and in his fourth year, Patterson has done nothing but pitch well and win games in a totally unnoticed way. He was a starter for two years but was then converted to relief. Last year in Albuquerque he played a dual role, being pressed into a starting role for 12 games and relieving in 27 others. He struck out exactly one hitter an inning. He is 37-11 with a career 3.38 ERA while his ERA in 2013 with the Isotopes was 3.03. I know he is not a candidate to be snatched away as a Rule 5 draftee but I like this guy.
In summary, look for Yimi Garcia to be added to the Dodgers 40 man roster on November 20th.