The 2021-22 major league Rule 5 draft is expected to take place shortly after the signing of the next collective bargaining agreement, tweets JJ Cooper of Baseball America. Originally scheduled to take place this week, the major league Rule 5 draft was postponed indefinitely as part of the leaguewide transaction freeze once MLB instituted a lockout upon the expiration of the previous CBA on December 1.
Still, it’s a noteworthy development that it’s expected to happen at all. The Rule 5 had seemingly been on thin ice, with reports last week initially suggesting it’d be canceled entirely. Instead, it now seems the draft is on track to happen at some point. That’s a continuation of a more than century-old trend, as the Rule 5 has taken place each offseason since 1920.
For those unfamiliar, the big league Rule 5 draft is an acquisition process designed to give opportunities to players who might be buried on the depth chart in their current organizations. Players with either four or five years of professional experience (the exact threshold depends upon the player’s age at signing their first contract) have to either be added to their club’s 40-man roster or exposed in the Rule 5.
If they’re left exposed, they’re subject to selection by other organizations. If selected, players must remain on the active roster or major league injured list for the entirety of the upcoming season. Otherwise, they’re made available to the rest of the league and then — if not acquired by another team — offered back to their original club. After a full season on the big league roster or injured list — including a minimum of 90 days on the active roster — the player becomes a full-fledged member of his new team.
There is also a minor league phase to the Rule 5 draft, in which eligible players not included among an organization’s protected Triple-A group can be selected by another club. The minor league phase, which does not contain any roster restrictions for the acquiring teams, is scheduled to proceed tomorrow. Players selected in the minor league Rule 5 draft will not be added to teams’ 40-man rosters, so that process will continue in spite of the lockout affecting 40-man players.