The Trade Deadline and the Rule 5 Draft


(AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

I still feel like the season has just started, but we’re already fewer than seven weeks away from the non-waiver trade deadline. We’ve already taken a very brief look at what the Yankees could be in the market for prior to July 31st, though the shopping list has changed somewhat because the starting rotation has sorted itself out and David Robertson is one day from returning. Brett Gardner‘s elbow injury continues to linger though.

Anyway, rather than talking about needs, I want to spend some time talking about what the Yankees have to offer in trades. Specifically, I want to discuss three young right-handed pitchers: Adam Warren, Brett Marshall, and Mikey O’Brien. All three are having solid years and are pitching at the Double-A level or above, which is when you can really start to get serious about thinking a guy may be able to help your big league roster at some point relatively soon. More importantly, all three guys share one thing in common that is beyond their control: they’re all eligible for the Rule 5 Draft this coming offseason.

The renewed emphasis on the farm system in the mid-aughts resulted in a lot of players being protected or left exposed to the Rule 5 Draft in recent years. The Yankees famously lost Ivan Nova to the Padres for about three weeks in 2008, and over the years we’ve seen guys like George Kontos and Lance Pendleton get selected in the Rule 5 Draft before being returned. Zack Kroenke was selected and returned in 2008 before being retained by the Diamondbacks in 2009.

At the same time, the Yankees have protected hordes of players from the Rule 5 Draft by adding them to the 40-man roster. Right now they’re carrying Brandon Laird, D.J. Mitchell, Austin Romine, Corban Joseph, and Zoilo Almonte on the 40-man for that very reason. In the past it’s been guys like Ryan Pope and Reegie Corona, Anthony Claggett and Kevin Russo, Romulo Sanchez and Chris Garcia. Some saw time in the big leagues after being added to the 40-man, some didn’t. None of them had any kind of impact and were all eventually cut off the roster.

Now obviously protecting a player and possibly getting some mileage out of him is preferable to losing him for $50k in the Rule 5 Draft, but it’s not an either/or situation. The Yankees could also use some of those borderline players in trades before they become Rule 5 eligible to clear up the 40-man roster crunch before it even happens. The Red Sox did this to a certain extent last summer when they acquired Erik Bedard in exchange for four miscellaneous prospects, two of whom — Stephen Fife and Chih-Hsien Chiang — were Rule 5 Draft eligible after the season.

That’s kinda where O’Brien, Marshall, and to a much lesser extent Warren fit in. They’re right on that protect/expose bubble and the question becomes: are they more valuable on the 40-man roster in the coming years or as trade bait? How necessary are these three with similar pitchers like David Phelps and Mitchell already on the 40-man? The answer could very easily be yes, there’s always going to be a need for pitching. That’s not always a given though, not every prospect is going to make it. Now that doesn’t necessarily mean the Bombers should they go around shopping these guys, but perhaps they should be among the first offered when it does come time to talk trade.

The Yankees are carrying 48 players on their 40-man roster right now thanks to the eight 60-day DL guys, but at least three of the 40 healthy players — Dellin Betances, Zoilo Almonte, Melky Mesa — are unable to help the big league team right now if needed. They just aren’t ready for it. A case can be made that Corban Joseph and Matt Antonelli belong in that group as well. There are going to be bubble players every year with regards to the Rule 5 Draft, and many times the best way to maximize what you get out of those guys is by trading them before they’re even eligible.

Categories : Trade Deadline


  1. Sully says:

    Why continue to have Mesa on the 40? If he was exposed to the Rule 5, is it reasonable to believe he could stick on an MLB 25 man roster for an entire season?

    • Ted Nelson says:

      One reason is that you need someone else who is more worth protecting/carrying on the 40 man. Can be as much that there’s no one else better than Mesa as that Mesa is good.

      I think he might at least get taken in the Rule 5, especially if a team thinks he can play CF. Has a whole lot of tools, and is hitting his second time through AA.

      • Rainbow Connection (futurely Dummies Playing With Balls and/or RI$P FTW) says:

        i feel like adam warren is more worthy of protecting.

      • MannyGeee says:

        rather trade Melky than let him go in the Rule 5 if they really dont think he will help the big club and if he has the potential to get scooped up.

        • Need Pitching says:

          don’t think Rule 5 would be the problem with Mesa now
          I believe to get him off the 40-man, they would have to outright him, and any team could claim him without the Rule 5 restrictions, they would just have to carry him on the 40-man roster, not the 25 (not 100% sure of this, but I think it’s correct)

  2. Dan says:

    I would think some of this decision should be based on what happens with Kuroda, Garcia, and Pettitte in the offseason. If two out of those three (Kuroda and Pettitte) end up returning, it lessens the need to protect them. If all three leave, it will potentially open 3 spots on the 40-man roster. However, we won’t know what our depth situation will be until after the season. Another issue, is it’s hard to deal away some of this SP depth when we do not know what Pineda will bring when he returns. Similarly with the lack of potential minor leaguers that might be able to help at the ML level, it might be important to keep players like Almonte and Mesa, as well as Joseph in case Cano ends up leaving in FA.

  3. JobaWockeeZ says:

    The Yankees famously acquired Nova, not lost.

  4. Peter R says:

    #Correction: Pants Lendleton. Thanks

  5. Gonzo says:

    Stupid question, does the success of Tim Collins make them more inclined to keep O’Brien in case he can have a future in a bullpen? Does it make him more desirable to other teams in a Rule V draft?

    • JohnnyC says:

      What makes him desirable is he’s pitching well. Height or lack thereof is not a factor at this point (it factors in when you’re initially drafted but not after actually performing in pro ball).

      • Gonzo says:

        I also disagree whether or not height plays a part in how he’s viewed. My point is that he may have a successful second act in the MLB in the bullpen.

        The lack of plane on his fastball might be more of a factor in the majors when trying to flip a lineup more than once. A problem he won’t have in the bullpen.

  6. DERP says:

    Quick semi-related question. Do Banuelos and Flores also have to be added to the 40 man after the season? Both were signed in 2008, but I always get confused with international guys.

    • yooboo says:

      I think it is the same for International players. I believe the year count does not include DSL time. The number of years in the states should apply the same rules.

    • Mike Axisa says:

      It’s very difficult to tell which IFAs are Rule 5 eligible because their exact signing date is so important.

    • yooboo says:

      Ah… it is age and year.

      Age when is signed for years in organization.

      19 years old or older for 4 years.
      18 years old or younger for 5 years.

      Most international players sign as barely teenagers so it is 5 year for IFA.

  7. DM says:

    Not much of an issue here (except off-day fodder). The number of players taken — and kept — is very low. Also, I don’t think you craft trades months in advance with that in mind. Even with 60 day-dl guys on the mend, other spots will open up; the roster will change. And of the players exposed, only some will be taken — and very few, if any, retained by the drafting team.

    • MannyGeee says:

      For every couple of Novas that are returned and become something, there is a Johan or Josh Hamilton who is kept and lights the world on fire.

      • DM says:

        How many Santanas are there total? And how many of them were Rule 5? I think your Nova:Santana ratio is a bit off. And how you can include another outlier like Hamilton — with all his baggage — in this? No one doubted Hamilton’s ability; but his other issues made him understandably left off. You’ve made two historic Rule 5 guys only half as common as Nova. Those two are no standard; they’re the ultimate examples of rare exception.

        • Ted Nelson says:

          Point is that the Rule V is worth talking about… your original point was incoherent and added nothing. I was thinking about responding earlier, but I didn’t even understand what you were rambling about. If Adam Warren or Brett Marshall were exposed to the Rule V after finishing this season healthy and not terribly… they’d almost definitely be taken and they’d have an above average chance of sticking given that they’re fairly successful high-minors legit prospects. Those kind of guys are rarely exposed to the Rule V, because they will be taken and are more likely to stick in someone’s pen or on their bench.

          • DM says:

            Gettin itchy, Ted? Forgot to refill the Xanax or something?


            You’re so sadly transparent.

            You really need a new routine besides:

            1) Drop context
            2) Create strawman
            3) Add sneer
            4) Add obvious “might somewhat likely be” some other outcome that is completely dependent on the BS of 1) and 2).

            Change the channel — or wake me up when your stale rerun is over.

      • Gonzo says:

        The rules have changed since Johan was picked. Johan probably would not have been available in a Rule V draft under the current system.

        • Ted Nelson says:

          The rules have changed, but I don’t know how you know what would have happened to him in A or AA in 2000.

          • Gonzo says:

            I don’t know, that’s why I said probably. As in, with an extra year of evaluation of Johan and the rest of their 40-man roster, they would “probably” have come to the conclusion that they should make room for Johan.

          • Gonzo says:

            I’m trying to add context AND facts to the discussion Ted. What are you trying to do?

            • DM says:

              He’s trying to go against what you said — but he needs to drop context and ignore certain facts to do so. “Probably” is invisible to him unless he uses it himself as a tool to ride the fence.

  8. YankeesJunkie says:

    Out of the prospects named, it would seem that Marshall should be the least likely to be traded or unprotected. While his numbers have not been spectacular at the AA so far and he is still only 22 with some pretty good stuff. Marshall may end up being closer to a Nova or a Wang in which they don’t really get a shot at the majors until they are 24 or 25.

  9. Andrew Brotherton says:

    I could see us trading a few of those for a Carlos Quentin, I don’t think we will get into the Matt Garza sweepstakes because we really don’t need him but I wouldn’t be surprised if they did.

  10. Robinson Tilapia says:

    Don’t know much about O’Brien other than having a less-than-intimidating name.

    Warren could be a back-end starter on a bad team right now.

    Always read here that Marshall could be something.

    Fuck Warren. Marry Marshall. Kill Mikey. Oh, sorry, wrong game.

    Trade Warren. Protect Marshall. Expose Mikey.

  11. Smart Guy says:

    trade for lorenzo cain!

    trade for Logan Morrison!

    • Rainbow Connection (futurely Dummies Playing With Balls and/or RI$P FTW) says:

      trade for lorenzo cain!

      the idea is to IMPROVE the team.

      • Smart Guy says:

        how does lorenzo cain not improve the team?

        • Rainbow Connection (futurely Dummies Playing With Balls and/or RI$P FTW) says:

          granderson and swisher are going to play everyday. you have a platoon of ibanez and jones for LF and that doesnt include the insurance of dickerson, and brett will be back this season as well. theres just no need for him, and he sucks anyway

    • MannyGeee says:

      Lo Mo is staying on a Marlins team that is contending.

  12. Cuso says:

    If there’s not a single player Rule-5 eligible in the Yankee system that’s more deserving of being on the 40-man than Melky Mesa, that would be pathetic.

    He has no trade value. He’s gonna be like Ivan Cruz – get called up when he’s like 37 years old.

    Get his ass off the 40-man

    • Ted Nelson says:

      Uh… the Rule V happened months ago. Where you been?

      Ivan Cruz was a 1B with no speed at all… not exactly who I would compare Mesa to.

  13. tmarshlax says:

    Having followed the Yanks minors for about 6-7 years now, it seems more often that their prospects do not excel as they move up in the system. They usually get their high ratings at the lower levels and “try” to sustain as they get to AA & AAA (see Betances, Tabata, Eric Duncan). And although they want to keep their payroll down for 2014, it seems that their best bet is to focus on keeping their pitching prospects as there are always good bats available to buy on the open market.

    I would focus on keeping Warren, Marshall, & OBrien (although I do like Joseph’s trade value) at the expense of Almonte, Mesa and the like…

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