The Rule 5 Draft

The Rule 5 Draft takes place every year at baseball's winter meetings in December. Some years it's uneventful, but it's been a major source of talent for the teams that selected Dan UgglaJohan Santana and Roberto Clemente. Here's how it works:

  • Players who signed when 18 or younger are eligible for the draft after five years.
  • Players who signed when 19 or older are eligible after four years.
  • If these players aren't on their teams' 40 man rosters, they're exposed. 
  • As in the June draft, teams draft in reverse order of the previous season's standings. 
  • Teams that draft players must pay $50k to the player's original team. 
  • Those selected must remain on the 25-man roster or the major league DL for the entire season.
  • Otherwise, the claiming team has to offer the player back to his original team for $25k.  
  • First, however, he must clear outright waivers. 
  • This gives the other 28 teams the opportunity to claim him. If any team claims the player, he must remain on their roster for the entire season or go through waivers again.
  • The draft was more relevant before it was modified under the current Collective Bargaining Agreement, when players were eligible a year earlier.   

Thanks to's Keith LawCot's Baseball Contracts and's Rob Neyer.

Full Story | 4 Comments | Categories: MLBTR Glossary

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4 Comments on "The Rule 5 Draft"

4 years 9 months ago

would be great if you could add in the explanations for the AAA and AA portions of the Rule 5 draft…

4 years 9 months ago

So basically any player in the minor leagues and not on the major league roster of any team, is eligible for Rule 5 if they are 23 years old. It would seem to me that more teams would not take advantage of this rule to take a flyer on a player with a lot of potential or some help for the back of their bullpen that might develop further with experience and coaching. The Giants, for example, could use Pablo Sandoval as their back up catcher instead of keeping a full-time player at that position to free a spot for a player and end up with essentially the same roster. If it doesn’t work out all it costs is $25k.

Nessim Toledano
10 months 23 days ago

It has nothing to do with age. It has to do with when they were drafted and how many years they’ve played. A high schooler drafted at 18 would be eligible at the age of 22 (5 seasons, including the one in which he was drafted). A college player drafted at 22 would be 25 before he became eligible. On the other hand, a foreign player signed at the age of 16 would be only 20 by the time he became eligible.

3 years 9 months ago

I´m lazy. I wish there was a list somewhere by team of players- or at least reasonable prospects- who are eligible for the draft and thus must be protected.