As noted last month when we ran through various key dates for the offseason, tonight marks the deadline for teams to protect players from the 2020 Rule 5 Draft. Clubs wishing to protect Rule 5-eligible players must add them to their 40-man rosters by 6pm ET tonight or else risk losing them to another team during next month’s draft, which takes place on Dec. 10.
Eligibility is dependent on a player’s age and the timing of his entry to the professional ranks. A player that signed at 18 years of age or younger and has five seasons of pro ball is Rule 5 eligible if he is not added to the 40-man roster in advance of the deadline. Players that signed at 19 or older and have four seasons of professional experience are also eligible to be selected if they’re not added to the 40-man roster tomorrow. (In other words, college draftees out of the 2017 class, high school draftees out of the 2016 class and most international amateurs signed in the 2016-17 international period are eligible this year if not protected.)
Players who meet those criteria but are not added to the 40-man roster by tonight’s deadline will be eligible to be conditionally drafted to another club at next month’s event. The new team will have to take said player and not only place him directly on its 40-man roster but also carry him on the Major League roster throughout the 2021 season. Rule 5 draftees must remain on the Major League roster for the entire season in order to be retained by their new club. They can be placed on the Major League injured list, of course, but a player must spend at least 90 total days on the active roster in order to shed his Rule 5 designation. Should he not spend 90 days on the active roster, his Rule 5 designation would roll over into the 2022 season and remain in place until his 90th (cumulative) day on a big league roster.
As those who’ve followed prior offseasons surely recall, tonight’s looming deadline will prompt plenty of action over the course of the day. Expect a handful of trades and waiver claims as well as a slew of DFAs today as teams look to create 40-man roster space to protect Rule 5-eligible prospects. Trades made in the runup to this deadline may not look like blockbusters at the time, but one need only look back three years to see that trades on this day can have enormous ramifications; on this day in 2017, the Astros traded a yet-to-debut outfielder named Ramon Laureano to the A’s for minor league righty Brandon Bailey (who was not Rule 5-eligible and thus did not need to be protected).
As you might imagine, it’s easier to account for protection of prospects for teams with extra 40-man roster space, but it’s not as simple as having an opening. That club also must be able to carry a player in that spot throughout the winter and into the season. Adding a player that wouldn’t have been selected (or wouldn’t have lasted on an active roster) therefore has its own risk: if you end up needing the space, you might have to expose such a player to outright waivers in the middle of the season.
Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com has a breakdown of the Rule 5-eligible players from each team’s Top 30 prospects who’ll need to be added by tonight’s deadline or else exposed to the Rule 5 Draft. Seven of MLB.com’s Top 100 prospects, headlined by Astros righty Forrest Whitley, need to be protected this year. Those seven will assuredly be protected, but not every player within a club’s top 30 rankings will be added to a 40-man roster today.
Not long ago, we’d already have seen a slew of 40-man additions and probably some minor transactions in the week leading up to this deadline as teams prepared. Today’s brand of general manager/president of baseball operations, however, seems wholly intent on waiting right up until every deadline to make final decisions — be it the trade deadline, Rule 5 protection deadline, non-tender deadline, etc. The Cardinals have made a pair of 40-man adds this week — catcher Ivan Herrera and righty Angel Rondon — but it’s been silence from the league’s other 29 teams.
This year’s Covid-19 pandemic, of course, only further obscures the already difficult task of determining which minor leaguers run the risk of being selected by another organization. Most clubs didn’t get to see the bulk of their prospects in a competitive setting in 2020. Even more difficult was their lack of looks at minor leaguers in other organizations. These decisions are never easy for any team, but the challenges of the 2020 make this year’s slate of roster protection transactions all the more complicated.
Here’s a look at how many 40-man roster openings each club has to work with at the moment, although it’s important to recognize that these totals will change within hours of this writing due to the aforementioned avalanche of transactions that looms:
Blue Jays: 5
Red Sox: 4
White Sox: 4
Anyone know or seen a list of the ones who are being considered or not? To be protected….
The article contains a link to that information from mlb.com. It looks like several teams will be need to leave a few people unprotected but I have no idea whether that includes anyone worth poaching.
The math on this can be deceptive. Teams with enough open roster slots to protect their Rule 5 exposed players now may well have gotten there by losing a number of players to free agency. Unless they are lucky enough to be able to fill their needs internally they will be exposing some of those protected players later when they dive into the free agency market.
BlueSky – what you say is true and there will be DFAed, waived, releases, thought we could sneak you through players from know into spring trading as free agents sign.
Whitley for Benintendi? Both have struggled mightily in recent years. Maybe change of sensory type guys.
If they need a change of sensory, that’s more for a doctor to work with
Noooo. Beni baseball is a young proven outfielder with a bad 2020. Keep him
Red Sox need pitching. OF’ers are a dime a dozen.
in that case you can have VV and the Phillies will take Beni and Durran
Wouldn’t touch that deal if I’m the Astros! 6 years of Whitley for 2 seasons of a struggling Benintendi who hasn’t hit since 2018. Houston doesn’t really need help in the lineup given Bregman, Altuve, Correa, the emergence of Tucker and the return of Alvarez, not to mention the possibility of re-signing Springer or Brantley. Astros need bullpen help and SP depth, which Whitley can provide.
In what universe is that a good deal for Houston?
the same one in which Whitely’s value has been in free fall for the past few years
Not one person, outside of Boston would think this trade made sense.
The Jays should cut Fisher loose to open another spot as well i think they should non-tender Shaw as well that would open two more spots = 7 which gives them the opportunity to sign at least 3 FA’s and still protect 4 of their more promising prospects
Excellent ideas Jaysfan. I would add at least Tanner Roark too.
Personally i do not like the idea of eating that 12 mil. I think Roark needs to be traded, just not sure for what and to whom? LOL Perhaps a package of Roark, Fisher and McGuire to a catcher weak team for a bull pen arm?
The fact Fisher and Shaw still haven’t been cut loose is a problem. There are some names eligible for Rule-5 that I’d protect and roster on the 40.
Remember, this organization quit on Jordan Romano on two occasions. Can’t trust the process if you can’t trust their judgement.
Burrows is an interesting prospect that was close to mlb ready before covid that the Braves didn’t protect last year. I’m guessing they won’t protect him this year either although with some departures that we have seen and will see out of the bullpen, I’d protect him this year. Just to be safe. Idk… just my thoughts
Oh ya, today should be interesting. But it’s not THAT much of a cutoff; you can still trade for a guy whose been left off the 40 before the Rule 5 draft.
But the DFAs should be fun, especially some well paid spare part-types, and arb-eligible guys.
This should be Chris Davis cut day because the Orioles actually have some prospects that could be selected in the rule 5 draft if not protected this year. It won’t happen though.
He about to reach any multiple of 100 in home runs or pass anyone on the all-time list? That’s the only reason I can think of why a straight-up analytics type GM like Mike Elias wouldn’t just cut him.
That is very true but it will not happen. The Orioles will have to eat his contract. But if the Orioles would cut him it will be another step in the right direction. The Orioles have a promising future.
I’m hoping the Tigs snag Tyler Ivey in the R5. You can never have enough pitching prospects, and he was lethal in 2019!
How does a team just have 9 open spots, don’t you have people scheduled to be able to hit and pitch. I think that the Pirates are stupid to have none unless they just filled them. This is a scary time for all teams. Especially Dodgers,Yankees, and big market clubs.
Pirates could cut 20 guys off their 40 man and it won’t even make them worse at this point.
i hope the Phillies look to add a rule 5 guy. they have good history with them and they shouldn’t need to fill all 9 spots.
of the 9 open spots on the Phillies is probably reserved in anticipation for a Realmuto reunion
im not saying pick up enough R5 guys to fill thr roster. they expect to fill multiple of those with free agents but those spots will be there anyway and can be made with DFA and non tenders.
Do not get me wrong i was not making a snide comment towards you, i was just saying i figured at least 1 spot is probably reserved for a FA signing
So it looks like the Padres already have spots for Tucupita Marcano and Reggie Lawson. Still need a spot for Tirso Ornelas. Not foolishly putting Luis Campusano and Weathers on the 40-man roster for 4 PA’s from Campusano and 4 outs from Ryan Weathers would have created space for Ornelas and one major league free agent signing.
Pirates have the worse organization in baseball yet not one 40 man roster spot.
I was going to say, 0? Closer to 32 or so, by my count.
Ya, navigating the 40-man is one of the most significant duties of a GM. In fact, these days, when higher-ups tend to make the really big decisions, it’s probably their major function.
And ya, the fact the worst team in MLB (Bucs) don’t have any spots is interesting, especially since they have at least 2 guys (Kranik, Castro) that would generate interest.
There’s a “tracker” of sorts on mlb.com, for those who are really interested.
At this point, any GM that loses a guy to the Rule 5 draft because of a lack of space on the 40-man roster and then proceeds to make a predictable non-tender probably shouldn’t be handling roster management.
I’m really hoping the Pirates cut down on those spots here in the next few hours. Really would like to keep a spot open for a R5 pick. They should be non-tendering Williams, Crick, possibly Gonzalez, Feliz, and DFA’ing a few of the relievers they claimed like Sean Poppen, Austin Davis, etc.
The braves have selected kyle Muller as expected