Chicago Cubs 2016 NL Central Championship Gear

rule 5 draftHeld annually on the Thursday of Winter Meetings week, the Rule 5 Draft gives teams the opportunity to select other organizations’ players who are eligible for the draft by virtue of a certain number of years experience in the minors, and were not protected by being placed on certain reserve lists (i.e., the 40-man roster at the big league level, and various minor league rosters from there).

This year’s edition kicks off at 9am CT, and you can follow along live at

No, you’re not going to see household names going today in the draft, though useful players are often plucked. Just last year, the Rangers picked up Delino Deshields, Jr., and the Phillies grabbed Odubel Herrera, each of whom looked like a quality big league outfielder despite very little upper level minor league experience.

And, of course, a few years ago, the Cubs took an oft-injured starting pitching prospect from the Indians, and he became one of their best relievers, in Hector Rondon.

Once a player is drafted today, the team that takes him must keep the player on the 25-man roster for most of the 2016 season (subject to some gamesmanship with the disabled list), or else they have to offer the player back to the original team. That’s why you see so many legitimately good prospects exposed to the Rule 5 Draft but not selected. Sometimes you’ve got to roll the dice that another team will not be able to actually keep such a young or raw player on the big league roster all year.

There’s also a minor league phase of the draft, whereby teams can pluck lower-level players who were unprotected on minor league rosters, and then they just get to keep the player. For example, the Cubs lost Justin Bour this way a couple years ago, and then he wound up being a nice bat for the Marlins this past season. Good for him, as it wouldn’t have happened with the Cubs, and that’s kinda the whole point of this process.

As for the Cubs today, I wouldn’t expect them to select anyone in the Major League phase, though they do have an open 40-man roster spot if they wanted to take a crack. Even if they do select someone in the Major League phase, keep in mind that it might just be as part of a pre-arranged deal to trade that player to another team for a little bit of extra cash. The Cubs select so low (28th) that even that is unlikely. In the minor league phase, however, the Cubs might pick up a couple hail mary players.

The real issue for today is what players the Cubs might lose in the draft. Because they’ve built up such a talented farm system in recent years, they simply cannot possibly protect everyone they’d want to protect and also, you know, actually craft a quality 40-man roster.

Among the notable Cubs players eligible for selection today in the Major League phase:

Gioskar Amaya, INF-C
John Andreoli, OF
Pedro Araujo, RHP
Jeffrey Baez, OF
Corey Black, RHP
David Bote, INF
Stephen Bruno, INF
Ben Carhart, INF-C
Josh Conway, RHP
Blake Cooper, RHP
Taylor Davis, C
Shawon Dunston Jr., OF
P. J. Francescon, RHP
Anthony Giansanti, OF
Michael Heesch, LHP
Michael Jensen, RHP
Danny Lockhart, INF
Dillon Maples, RHP
Ricardo Marcano, OF
Trey Martin, OF
Jonathan Martinez, RHP
Juan Carlos Paniagua, RHP
Luis Parra, LHP
Felix Pena, RHP
Carlos Penalver, INF
James Pugliese, RHP
Bijan Rademacher, OF
Jacob Rogers, 1B
Jose Rosario, RHP
Drew Rucinski, RHP
Tayler Scott, RHP
Daury Torrez, RHP
Logan Watkins, INF

You can see the full list at The Cub Reporter.


I get very nervous looking over that list, because, although most of the prospects are not realistic selection targets, I’d hate to see the Cubs lose arms like Black, Pena, or Torrez today. I don’t think a team would pluck Rademacher, but it’s possible. I also wonder if a team would take an extreme flyer on Araujo, who hasn’t pitched above short-season ball and has been a bit of a slow developer, but really broke out as a reliever this year. There’s some physicality to dream on there. The same is true of Paniagua, who has the pedigree, but the results have been uneven.

I could go on, because it’s in a Cubs fan’s DNA to dream on prospects. I have to remind you, and myself, that most organizations have lists of guys they’d hate to lose and are exposed today. The vast majority will not be selected because there simply isn’t room.

Baseball America has a preview piece with 50 names of possible selectees, and Davis, Baez, Black, Pena, and Heesch are discussed. You’d hate to lose Baez because of his clear upside, but could a team really carry such a raw, young player all year? The guys who are more likely to be selected and lost are Black and Pena, each of whom could plausibly be stashed in a bullpen for a year and then developed further.

All in all, I’m already preparing myself to see the Cubs lose a couple players today, and maybe more. That doesn’t mean those players are gone for good, mind you.

I will be unavailable for the first part of the draft today, but will be updating the selections as soon as I’m able. In the meantime, feel free to follow along in the comments.

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