Although the Rule 5 Draft doesn’t take place for another few weeks, tomorrow is the deadline for teams to make their protection decisions.
For those who have forgotten, or never knew, the Rule 5 Draft is a draft that takes place at the annual Winter Meetings, in which teams are given the opportunity to select minor leaguers from other organizations. Players not on the 40-man roster are eligible for selection based on the following criteria:
- The player was 18 or younger when he first signed, and the Rule 5 Draft is the fifth one since the player signed; or
- The player was 19 or older when he first signed, and the Rule 5 Draft is the fourth one since the player signed.
Rule of thumb? High school player or international signees are eligible after five years, and college players are eligible after four years.
Since an eligibility requirement is not being on the 40-man roster, a team can “protect” an otherwise eligible prospect by placing him on the 40-man roster. For the purposes of the Rule 5 Draft, tomorrow is the deadline for teams to place such players on the 40-man.
You can check out the full list of eligible players at TCR, where Arizona Phil does a good job of keeping tabs on each player’s status (Juan Paniagua is an exception because of his very unique history – at this point, we just have to hope he’s not eligible, and that the Cubs know his status one way or the other).
Some of the bigger names include Arismendy Alcantara, Gioskar Amaya, Dallas Beeler, Jae-Hoon Ha, Marco Hernandez, Eric Jokisch, and Matt Loosen, among others. Alcantara will be added to the 40-man, without question. Amaya remains a very nice prospect, but he hasn’t played above Low-A, so he would be hard to stash at the big league level for a year, even for the Astros. Ha is a nice defensive outfielder, but has limited upside. Jokisch has been an effective lefty up the chain to AA, but he’s got a back-of-the-rotation ceiling. He, Loosen, and Beeler – who have been discussed at length thanks to their AFL stint – will be difficult decisions. If I were another team, I’d certainly be thinking about whether I could use any of those three as a reliever for the next year.
The 40-man roster currently stands at 37, so, absent any derostering decisions before tomorrow, the Cubs could protect up to three players (though they’d then have to drop other guys in order to sign new players, and/or take someone in the Rule 5 Draft themselves).
Best guess? The Cubs will add Alcantara and maybe a pitcher or two. Alcantara, alone, wouldn’t surprise me, though. With a crowded 40-man of young talent, the Cubs will have to roll the dice on some of these guys.