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Rule 5 Draft Rumors
MLBTR's 24/7 coverage of the 2013 Winter Meetings rolls on, with a few late night (or is it early morning?) links….
- When the Astros and Padres both included players to be named later in Wednesday's Anthony Bass trade, our Steve Adams suggested the move was related to Thursday's Rule 5 draft, and Jim Callis of Baseball America confirms as much. According to Callis (Twitter links), the Astros and Padres have switched spots in the draft, with San Diego likely to select a pitcher first overall.
- Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News tweets that the Yankees expect to lose players in Thursday's Rule 5 draft, naming Tommy Kahnle and Danny Burawa as two pitchers who could be selected.
- The Rockies are looking to add a left-handed reliever and have the money to be flexible, tweets Troy Renck of the Denver Post.
- While they've been linked to major trade candidates like David Price and have one of their own in Matt Kemp, the Dodgers expect to leave Orlando without having completed a major deal, GM Ned Coletti said Wednesday, according to MLB.com's Ken Gurnick.
- A number of scouts are going directly from the winter meetings to Mexico to watch a showcase for Cuban right-hander Raicel Iglesias, tweets Tim Brown of Yahoo! Sports. The workout is scheduled for Friday.
- The Rangers can afford to approach the free agent and trade markets with patience, says Anthony Castrovince of MLB.com, writing that Texas isn't necessarily under any pressure to make another big move.
Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow and his staff have narrowed their list of possible selections for the first pick in this year's Rule 5 Draft to roughly 10 players, writes Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle. One possibility on their list is Pirates right-hander Zack Thornton. The 25-year-old pitched to a 2.63 ERA with 10.8 K/9 and 1.4 BB/9 across three levels in 2013, topping out at Triple-A. Here's more out of the AL West in the midst of the calm before the storm that is the Winter Meetings…
- Two general managers told Jon Heyman of CBS Sports that they wouldn't part with Taijuan Walker in a package to land David Price (Twitter link). Last week, it was reported that the Mariners could push for Price but that Walker would need to be included in any trade.
- The Mariners have received a lot of interest in Dustin Ackley, tweets Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. As Heyman notes, Ackley had a solid finish to his 2013 season, batting .290/.360/.412 over his final 65 contests.
- Heyman also tweets that the Mariners' targets include David Price, Nelson Cruz, Joaquin Benoit and Corey Hart. Hart was drafted by General Manager Jack Zduriencik when Zduriencik was with the Brewers.
- The record for the highest payout through the arbitration process is $10MM, but one person familiar with the process tells Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times that Angels outfielder Mike Trout could get $15MM in his first go 'round through arbitration, $20MM in his second year, and $25MM in his third trip through the process. Even for a star of Trout's caliber, those numbers seem lofty.
Zach Links contributed to this post.
After the departures of Brian McCann and Tim Hudson, the Braves have needs, and may not have much money available to meet them, David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes in a long essay about what to expect from the Braves in the coming weeks. They could try to trade for a pitcher like Jeff Samardzija, John Lackey or Kyle Lohse, or they could sign Bartolo Colon. Colon is an appealing option for the Braves, O'Brien says, because his age makes him unlikely to receive a huge contract. The Braves also hope to trade Dan Uggla to clear salary. Here are more notes from around the National League.
- Cuban shortstop Erisbel Barbaro Arruebarruena will put on a showcase for clubs this weekend and the Mets will be among the teams in attendance, sources tell Andy Martino of the New York Post. The 23-year-old, ranked as the tenth-best prospect in the World Baseball Classic not signed to an MLB club by Baseball America, defected from Cuba in November.
- It appears the Cubs will cede their top pick in the upcoming Rule 5 Draft to resolve a dispute involving former Rule 5 pick Lendy Castillo, Carrie Muskat of MLB.com reports. The Cubs picked Castillo from the Phillies in 2011, and Castillo missed 91 days of the following season due to injury, then spent the entire 2013 season in the minors. In case of injury, players selected in the Rule 5 Draft must stick on their new teams' active rosters for at least 90 days. The Phillies will receive the Cubs' pick after they filed a grievance regarding Castillo. The Cubs don't plan to select a player this year anyway. The Rule 5 Draft will be held next Thursday.
- A recent report listed a number of teams as possible landing spots for David Price, but it would be easy to overpay for Price, FanGraphs' Dave Cameron argues. Price is a great pitcher, but he's only under control for two more years, and will cost a total of about $30MM for those two seasons. Cameron's back-of-the-envelope math suggests Pirates top prospect Gregory Polanco, for example, could be worth about $91MM of surplus value over his six cost-controlled seasons, about three times as valuable as Price. The Royals' trade of Wil Myers and other youngsters for James Shields and Wade Davis was an overpay and should not determine the market for Price, Cameron argues.
Zach Links contributed to this post.
The deadline for teams to make additions to their 40-man rosters in order to protect players from the Rule 5 Draft has come and gone, and we saw a flurry of roster moves yesterday as a result. Click below to see a team-by-team breakdown of the minor leaguers who were protected from Rule 5 exposure, and check out MLBTR's DFA Tracker for a rundown of the 12 former 40-man players who were designated for assignment as a result of yesterday's deadline.
Midnight tonight is the deadline for teams to add players to their 40-man roster in order to protect them from being selected in next month's Rule 5 Draft. There should be no shortage of players being added, and we'll run them down here in this post…
- The Brewers announced that they've added first baseman Hunter Morris, first baseman/outfielder Jason Rogers and right-handers Brooks Hall and Kevin Shackelford to their 40-man roster.
- The Braves announced that they've added left-hander Carlos Perez, right-hander Luis Vasquez and infielder Elmer Reyes to their 40-man roster. MLB.com's Mark Bowman tweets that the Braves had only recently signed Vasquez, 27, to a minor league deal. His entire career to this point has come in the Dodgers' minor league system.
- The Reds have added catcher Tucker Barnhart, right-hander Chad Rogers and outfielders Juan Duran and Ryan LaMarre to their 40-man roster, tweets John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer.
- In addition to McGuire, the Blue Jays announced that outfielder Kenny Wilson has been added to the 40-man roster as well (Twitter link).
- Catcher Tommy Joseph, left-hander Rob Rasmussen and outfielders Aaron Altherr and Kelly Dugan have been added to the Phillies' 40-man roster, the team announced.
- Right-hander Kirby Yates and southpaw C.J. Riefenhauser have been added to the Rays' 40-man roster, according to their agency, the Beverly Hills Sports Council (Twitter link). The Tampa Tribune's Roger Mooney reports that infielder Vince Belnome and righty Jesse Hahn have been added as well (also on Twitter).
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Here are your minor moves for Friday (all links courtesy of Baseball America's Matt Eddy on Twitter)…
- Long-time Orioles farmhand Mike Flacco — the brother of Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco — has retired, according to Alex Speier of WEEI.com (Twitter link). The 26-year-old first baseman hit .253/.335/.378 in 353 minor league games. Flacco had been with the High-A Salem Red Sox.
- The Mariners released minor league Rule 5 pick Eric Farris, and the second baseman quickly latched on with the Twins, according to Matt Eddy of Baseball America (on Twitter). The M's plucked Farris off of the Brewers' roster in December.
- The Tigers released defensive wizard Cale Iorg. The shortstop hit just .199/.240/.313 in parts of three seasons at Double-A. MLB.com's Adam McCalvy points out (via Twitter) that Iorg is the son of Brewers first base coach Garth Iorg.
- The Pirates acquired catcher Troy Snitker from the Braves in a trade. The 24-year-old was taken by Atlanta in the 19th round of the 2011 draft and has spent the bulk of the last two seasons in rookie ball.
- Also within that link, Eddy reports that the Phillies acquired shortstop Jose Mojica from theYankees. Mojica hit just .226/.265/.305 for the Bombers' Advanced-A affiliate in 2012.
- The Braves released Dimasther Delgado, who appeared on three organization top 30 lists. The 24-year-old left-hander has a 3.93 ERA with 6.3 K/9 and 3.5 BB/9 in two years of Advanced-A ball.
- The Rays have released right-hander Jason McEachern, who was a 13th-round selection in the 2008 draft. Eddy notes that McEachern was a projectable high school arm that made it to Class-A but never took a step forward in his fastball velocity. The 22-year-old has a 4.96 ERA in 201 Class-A innings.
Zach Links contributed to this post.
We're near the end of spring training, a time when there's plenty of news about players taken in the Rule 5 Draft, as teams decide whether to place those players on their 25-man rosters (and commit, at least in theory, to keeping them there the entire year) or to give them up, allowing other teams to claim them on waivers or allowing their original teams to buy them back.
Historically, some of the top players to be selected in the Rule 5 Draft include Roberto Clemente, Darrell Evans, Bobby Bonilla and George Bell. But let's begin our list of highlights from the Rule 5 with Johan Santana's selection in 1999, so that most of the players listed below are still active.
The talent in the Rule 5 Draft has been diluted in recent years since a 2006 change in Major League Baseball's CBA that allowed teams to protect their players from the Rule 5 process for an extra year without placing them on their 40-man rosters. These changes mean that, in the next 10 to 15 years, the Rule 5 will likely produce far less talent than it did from 1999 through 2005.
We may be reaching the point, in fact, where the damage the Rule 5 Draft can do to a player's career outstrips the benefit of having the draft at all. The draft is designed to prevent teams from hoarding MLB-ready players in the minors. But if the last few drafts are any indication, teams simply are not doing that very frequently (at least, not with players not already protected on 40-man rosters), as the Rule 5 has produced strikingly little talent since Josh Hamilton and Joakim Soria were selected in 2006.
Meanwhile, the Rule 5 process can create situations in which players who ought to be in the minors languish in the majors. Take the case of Donnie Veal, who the Pirates selected in the Rule 5 Draft in 2008. Veal had pitched that year in the Cubs system, demonstrating promising stuff but serious struggles with control. The Rule 5 Draft forced the Pirates to carry him on their active roster, but they had no confidence in his ability to retire major-league hitters, so they used him sparingly out of the bullpen, then placed him on the disabled list in order to allow him to play rehab games in the minors. (Pirates GM Neal Huntington characterized one of Veal's trips to the DL as "admittedly an aggressive placement.") Veal pitched only 16 1/3 innings for Pittsburgh that year, walking 20 batters in the process, and he added 27 1/3 innings in the minors. All told, Veal pitched over 100 fewer innings in 2009 than he did in 2008.
The Rule 5 system generally works well among competitive teams. A team that is actively trying to win will have a difficult time hiding a Rule 5 player on a roster the entire season unless he's truly ready. But for a non-competitive team like the 2009 Pirates or the 2012 Astros, there's little reason not to try to keep a player who has upside, even if he wouldn't ordinarily be in the majors. For example, the Astros drafted reliever Rhiner Cruz from the Mets in 2011, even though he had never played above Double-A and exhibited serious control issues even there. The Astros then kept Cruz the entire year, and he posted a 6.05 ERA and 4.75 BB/9. It's impossible to say for certain whether Cruz have been better served by pitching in the minors in 2012, but most teams would have placed him in Triple-A, or perhaps even Double-A.
Occasionally, a player will keep his head above water throughout his Rule 5 year, as Lucas Luetge did last year with the Mariners, or Joe Paterson did in 2011 with the Diamondbacks. But an argument could be made that the Rule 5 Draft now hurts as much as it helps.
Nonetheless, the Rule 5 Draft did produce a fair amount of talent — about one impact player per year — from 1999 through 2006, mostly before the change to the CBA. Here are some of the best players selected in the Rule 5 Draft since 1999. (We'll just look at the major-league portion, although, once in a blue moon, good players do come out of the minor-league portion — the Rangers got Alexi Ogando that way in 2005, for example.)
Johan Santana (1999). The Marlins plucked Santana from the Astros' Midwest League affiliate, then immediately shipped him to the Twins for minor-leaguer Jared Camp. Santana was then very raw, and he struggled in 2000, posting a 6.49 ERA. By 2002, though, he was the Twins' best pitcher, and in 2004, he won his first Cy Young award.
Derrick Turnbow (1999). The Angels picked Turnbow from the Phillies, and they allowed him to make 24 appearances in 2000 despite serious struggles with control. After his Rule 5 year, Turnbow spent several years in the minors before reemerging, briefly, as a flamethrowing closer for the Brewers.
Jay Gibbons (2000).The Orioles snagged Gibbons from the Blue Jays after a .321/.404/.525 season at Double-A Tennessee, and he had a solid, if unspectacular, career in Baltimore, hitting 15 homers in his 2001 debut, and posting 20-plus homers in three seasons after that. The other notable in the 2000 draft was Endy Chavez, who was selected by the Royals from the Mets.
Shane Victorino (2002 and 2004). The Padres took Victorino in 2002 but returned him to the Dodgers in May. A year and a half later, the Phillies took Victorino, and again, he didn't stick. The Phillies offered him back to the Dodgers, meaning that the Dodgers would have had to return half the meager $50K the Phillies spent to select him, but, remarkably, former GM Paul DePodesta and the Dodgers declined, so the Phillies stashed Victorino in Triple-A Scranton, where he hit .310/.377/.534. Victorino earned a regular job in the Phillies outfield in 2005.
Jose Bautista (2003). Inexplicable management of their 40-man roster led the woeful Pirates to give up five of the first six picks in the 2003 Rule 5 Draft, leading to open laughter in the ballroom where the draft took place. Bautista was the sixth pick, and he headed to the Orioles. He was very raw at the time, having missed much of the previous season due to injury and having never played above Class A+. After the Orioles let him go, the Devil Rays and then the Royals claimed him. Kansas City shipped him to the Mets for Justin Huber, and the Mets sent him back to the Pirates in the Kris Benson deal. Other notables in the 2003 Rule 5 included Jason Grilli and Willy Taveras.
Dan Uggla (2005). Uggla hit .297/.378/.502 for the Diamondbacks' Double-A affiliate in 2005, but he was 25 at the time, so after the Marlins snagged him as a Rule 5 pick, it still came as a surprise when he hit 27 home runs and finished third in Rookie of the Year voting the following year.
Joakim Soria (2006). Soria's selection was a scouting coup for the Royals. In 2006, Soria had only pitched 11 2/3 innings in the states, all at Class A Fort Wayne in the Padres' system. The Royals selected him anyway, and he pitched a perfect game in the Mexican Pacific League two days later. Mere months later, he became one of baseball's best relievers.
Josh Hamilton (2006). On his way back from a long bout with drug addiction, Hamilton had only collected 50 pro at-bats since 2002 by the time of the 2006 Rule 5 Draft. Nonetheless, the Reds took a cheap gamble on the former first overall amateur draft pick, purchasing him after the Cubs selected him from the Rays in the Rule 5. Hamilton hit .292/.368/.554 for Cincinnati the following year.
Randy Wells (2007). The Blue Jays grabbed Wells but returned him to the Cubs two weeks into the 2008 season. Wells spent most of that season in the minors, then emerged as a mid-rotation starter for the Cubs, pitching fairly well in their rotation in 2009 and 2010.
R.A. Dickey (2007). Dickey was already 33 by the time the 2007 Rule 5 Draft took place, but it would be a couple more years before Dickey would harness his knuckleball and become a dominant major-leaguer. In the Rule 5, the Mariners drafted Dickey away from the Twins, then shipped minor-leaguer Jair Fernandez to Minnesota and sent Dickey to the minors. Dickey pitched 112 1/3 mediocre innings in the majors in 2008, then headed back to the Twins and on to the Mets, where he emerged as a star at age 35.
Everth Cabrera (2008). The Padres grabbed Cabrera out of Class A Asheville in the Rockies' system, and the shortstop has provided San Diego with good baserunning value since then.
Darren O'Day (2008). With 3.9 wins above replacement since the Mets drafted him out of the Angels system, O'Day has probably provided the best return on investment of any Rule 5 pick since 2006, although that's not saying much. (Dickey was two years and two teams removed from the Rule 5 process by the time he made an impact.) O'Day made four appearances with the Mets before being plucked off waivers by the Rangers, who made him a key part of their bullpen while he was still in his Rule 5 year.
Ivan Nova (2008). The Padres drafted Nova out of the Yankees system, then returned him right before the 2009 season began. The pitcher spent another year in the minors before making his big-league debut with New York in 2010.
Former Expos outfielder Warren Cromartie is convinced that the city of Montreal would welcome baseball back with open arms, writes Bill Beacon of the Canadian Press. Cromartie is heading up the Montreal Baseball Project — an organization that has been formed with the goal of bringing baseball back to Montreal. The $400K project will be completed by year's end and feature financial analysis, legal consultation and extensive market research among the city's population. Here's more from around the league for those of you in the mood for some late-night reading…
- Former Expo (and Angel, Ranger and Oriole) Vladimir Guerrero has an offer from the independent league Quebec Capitales, and he's been in contact with the Long Island Ducks as well, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (confirming an earlier tweet from Chris Cotillo).
- The Indians are hopeful of working out a trade with the Rangers to keep Rule 5 Draft pick Chris McGuiness, tweets MLB.com's Jordan Bastian.
- The Yankees had preliminary discussions with Yuniesky Betancourt on Sunday but don't see a fit, Andy McCullough of the Star-Ledger reports (via Twitter).
- MLB.com's Brian McTaggart breaks down Rick Ankiel's incentive structure with the Astros (on Twitter). Ankiel, who has a $750K base salary, will receive $75K for 200, 250 and 300 plate appearances. He'll then receive $100K for 350, 400 and 450 plate appearances. All told, he could earn $1.275MM. Ankiel, an Article XX(B) free agent, was named the team's everyday right fielder earlier today.
- Mike DiGiovanna of the L.A. Times expects the Angels to receive a low- to mid-level prospect from the Yankees when the reported Vernon Wells trade is finalized (Twitter link).
- Joey Nowak of MLB.com lists 12 notable out of options players who could be traded before the end of Spring Training.
The Orioles are contacting other teams to let them know reliever Luis Ayala is available in a trade, the Baltimore Sun’s Dan Connolly reports. The O’s would like to find space on their 25-man roster for Rule 5 Draft pick T.J. McFarland. They might be looking for players in return who aren’t required to be placed on the 40-man roster, Connolly says.
Ayala will make $1MM in 2013. He pitched 75 innings for the Orioles in 2012, posting a 2.64 ERA with 6.1 K/9 and 1.7 BB/9.
2:35pm: The Nationals announced, via Twitter, they have accepted Rosenbaum back from Rockies and he will report to minor league camp.
12:58 pm: The Rockies are returning Rule 5 Draft pick Danny Rosenbaum to the Nationals, according to Amanda Comak of the Washington Times (Twitter link). MLB.com's Thomas Harding adds, also via Twitter, that the move will become official once Colorado's signing of Jon Garland is finalized.
The Rockies selected Rosenbaum with the third pick in December's Rule 5 Draft. In eight Spring Training innings for Colorado, Rosenbaum allowed four runs on nine hits and three walks without registering a strikeout.
Last season, Rosenbaum fired 155 1/3 innings over the course of 26 starts for the Nats' Double-A affiliate, compiling a 3.94 ERA, 5.7 K/9 and 2.3 BB/9. The Xavier University product was a 22nd-round selection by Washington in the 2009 draft.
The left-hander ranked as Colorado's No. 22 prospect, according to Baseball America, who said that he "had a decent chance to be a touch-and-feel lefty at the back of a big league rotation" thanks to his ability to command an 84-90 mph fastball and a solid change-up.