The 2010 Winter Meetings will conclude today with the Rule 5 Draft, wherein (generally) players who’ve been in the minor leagues for five or six years, but haven’t yet made it onto their team’s 40-man roster, are eligible to be selected by the other Major League teams for an amount of money that you or I would consider a salary, but that ML teams consider a pittance. If the player can hang on the 25-man roster of that team for the entire season (with some strategic stints on the disabled list, no doubt), the selecting team can keep them. It’s not usually a source of a great deal of talent, though guys like Johan Santana, Dan Uggla and Josh Hamilton have passed by way of the Rule 5 Draft.
This year, the Chicago Cubs are not expected to take anyone in the Draft. They already have a number of young players on the 40-man roster, and would like to preserve space for upcoming additions. Further, it’s hard to imagine this team holding onto a player on the 25-man roster for the entire season, unless it’s a top notch reliever or bench bat.
Speaking of bench bats, the Cubs are expected to lose a player or two in the Draft this year – like third baseman Marquez Smith. Coming off an excellent offensive year at AAA Iowa, the sturdy defensive third baseman Smith, 25, is expected to be taken today. The Cubs were heavily criticized for failing to roster Smith to protect him in the draft, instead electing to tender Koyie Hill – the team’s fourth catcher – a contract. Part of that plan was presumably a trade involving one of the other catchers on the roster, but it hasn’t yet played out that way. Thus, when Smith is selected in the draft, expect a lot of teeth-gnashing.