Archive for Rule 5 Draft
The Rule 5 Draft is just eight days away, yet Baseball America posted what they’re calling their Early Rule 5 Draft Preview today (sorry, subscriber only). I’m guessing that means we’ll get another, more comprehensive preview sometime within the next week. Anyway, they listed ten players that could end up being selected, two of whom are Colin Curtis and Kevin Whelan.
Curtis was said to have “improved his stock greatly in the Arizona Fall League … by adjusting his stance and finally driving the ball,” while Whelan could get picked because of his “92-94 mph fastball and plus-plus split-finger pitch.” Grant Duff was mentioned as another interesting name to watch in a sidebar, and I’ll add that Zach Kroenke is almost a lock to get picked because he’s a living, breathing lefthander that has had success in Triple-A.
Getting picked is one thing, sticking on the 25-man big league roster all season long is another. None of the above players would be a significant loss to the Yankees, especially the relievers since they have so much bullpen depth, but I’m not convinced any of them can stick on the ML roster all season. You might see a trade worked out though, something similar to last year’s Chase Wright-Eric Fryer swap.
The Yankees have announced seven additions to the team’s 40-man rotation in advance of December’s Rule 5 draft. Among them are Austin Jackson and Ivan Nova. What a difference a year makes for Nova, who was selected and then returned to the Yanks in 2008.
To go along with this move, the Yanks also outrighted Shelley Duncan to AAA Scranton. I’m sure the Yanks would be happy to trade him for some cash. Here’s the full list:
Interestingly enough, the Yanks now have 39 of their 40-man spots filled, but the team is down a left fielder, a designated hitter and a starting pitcher. Either the Yanks don’t plan to resign more than one of their three big-name free agents so quickly or they will be prepared to cut loose someone on the 40-man if need be. Of those on the current 40-man, Christian Garcia looks awfully expendable.
Nothing gets me excited quite like the Rule 5 Draft, one of baseball’s more underappreciated sources of talent. If you’re unfamiliar with how the R5D works, Wikipedia does a pretty good job of explaining it. Basically, it’s a way to help players stuck in the minors advance their careers. If they’ve been playing pro ball for at least four years (three for college draftees) and are not on the 40-man roster, they’re eligible to be drafted. Their new team has to keep them on the 25-man Major League roster all season, otherwise the player’s old team can take him back if they want. That’s a really quick and dirty explanation, but it’ll do.
The actual draft is held on the final day of the Winter Meetings in early December. This year it’s on the 10th. Even though the draft isn’t for another few weeks, rosters do have to be set fairly soon. I don’t know the exact date, but last year it was November 20th, so it can’t be too far away.
For the most part, teams will use the R5D almost like a temp agency; a means to find cheap labor. They won’t (or shouldn’t) go in looking for a franchise cornerstone, because they aren’t going to get it. The best young players always get protected for obvious reasons. Instead, teams will look for that second lefty reliever, or a backup catcher, or a spare outfielder, or a long reliever, stuff like that. NL teams might look for a veteran hitter to bring off the bench, someone they can hide on their roster all season. Last year, the Yanks lost four players in Major League portion of the R5D, plus two more in the Triple-A phase.
This year, I count no fewer than 37 players in the Yanks’ organization that are R5D eligible. Chances are it’s more, but it can be tough to figure out if some of the international signees are eligible. Now 37 seems like a big number, and it is, but relax, most of them are organizational players that have no business being protected. That said, the Yanks still have some tough decisions to make regarding who’ll protect and who they’ll leave exposed.
Before we get into who they should and shouldn’t protect, we first need to figure out what the 40-man roster situation looks like. As of today, there are 38 players on the 40-man. Brian Cashman has said he plans on “taking it slow” this offseason, so we can assume the Yanks will let all of their free agents hit the market. That frees up seven spots (Damon, Hairston, Hinske, Matsui, Molina, Nady, Pettitte), and the Yanks could easily free up another one by cutting ties with Shelley Duncan the same way they did with Freddy Guzman and Josh Towers.
It looks like Brian Bruney will be back next year (grrr), but not Chien-Ming Wang. That’s another open spot. Jon Albaladejo, Chris Garcia, and Edwar Ramirez all have options left, but I bet at least one (Edwar) goes because they’re easily replaceable. That’s another spot. Juan Miranda qualifies for a fourth option, and he’s worth keeping around. All told, that would be eleven open spots on the 40-man, but remember that six of those spots will have to be used on replacements for Damon, Hairston, Hinske, Matsui, and Pettitte (Frankie Cervelli replaces Molina, and he’s already on the 40-man), plus assume one more spot for fungibility. That would give the Yanks four spots to use for protecting R5D eligible players.
Three of those four spots unquestionably will be used to protect Austin Jackson, Ivan Nova, and Kevin Russo. Jackson is the organization’s top outfield prospect, and if the Nationals didn’t take him with the first pick of the R5D, the Pirates would gobble him up with the second. Nova was selected but returned by the Padres last year, and the Yanks wouldn’t be so lucky again after his breakout season. Russo is capable of playing five (probably six) positions, and wOBA‘d .371 in Triple-A next year. That’s a guy you keep.
So that leaves one more spot, and about eight players worthy of being considered for protection. Let’s break ‘em down one by one after the jump.
Following up on yesterday’s post, the Yankees officially welcomed Reegie Corona back from the Mariners today. After hitting .281-.311-.386 in 57 at-bats this spring, Corona was assigned to Double-A Trenton, where he played last year. All of the players the Yanks lost in the Rule 5 Draft this year have been accounted for, as Corona, Zack Kroenke and Ivan Nova returned to the Yanks while Jason Jones will remain with the Twins after a trade.
Chad Jennings is reporting that the Mariners have placed infielder Reegie Corona on waivers, which is the first step towards returning him to the Yanks after Rule 5′ing him during the Winter Meetings in December. Corona’s chances of sticking with team were pretty much shot down when the M’s acquired Chris Burke over the weekend. The two teams have had some trade talks that would allow the M’s to keep Corona, but so far they’ve balked at the Yanks asking price of an unknown A-ball pitcher.
Jennings also noted that Chris Garcia is going to start the year on the … wait for it … disabled list. I am shocked by this development.
Via Ken Rosenthal, the Padres have placed righty Ivan Nova on outright waivers (as well as lefty Justin Hampson) after he posted an 8.31 ERA and 3-4 K/BB ratio in 8.2 IP this spring. Nova was selected from the Yanks in the Major League portion of the Rule 5 Draft, so he would have had to stuck on the Pads’ 25-man roster all season for them to keep him. If no other team claims Nova, he’ll be offered back to the Yanks for half of the $50,000 R5D fee. I think it’s safe to say Nova will be coming back. I mean if the Padres couldn’t find room for him on their staff, no team will. (h/t pat for the email)
Elsewhere in Rule 5 news, Brian Cashman wouldn’t comment on the rumor that Jason Jones was placed on waivers by the Twins, cleared, and has been offered back to the Yanks. Jones had a 2.70 ERA in 10 IP this spring, and as you probably remember he had some unkind words for the organization last month. The Yankees have more arms than spots available in Triple-A and Double-A, so I suspect they’ll just thank the Twinkies for the $50k and let them keep Mr. Jones.
Update (1:24pm): The Yanks acquired righty reliever Charles Nolte from the Twins for the right to keep Jones today. Nolte had a 2.05 ERA and a 75-35 K/BB ratio in 70.1 IP with Low-A Beloit last year. He was the Twins 24th round pick in 2007. (h/t Marc)
I’m camped out in the Rule 5 Draft war room, and I have to say there’s way more people here than I would have thought. I’m not going to take a picture of the room because there’s not much to see; lots of chairs, a podium on the stage and two big projection screens with a simple yet fancy R5D logo. I’d estimate that there’s room for about 500 people in here.
The big event starts at noon eastern, and I’ll be live blogging the whole schabang. Until then, you can check out some previews from Chad Jennings, Jonathan Mayo, and John Manuel. I know it’s the same software, but it’s not a chat, it’s a liveblog. I expect this thing to go by pretty fast, so I won’t be answering any questions. Maybe afterwards if I have time, but our flight is leaving pretty soon.