On the Thursday of the Winter Meetings, it is an annual tradition that we suddenly care a disproportionate amount about fringe prospects we’ve only passingly heard of. It’s the Rule 5 Draft! It begins at 8am CT.
The exercise is an attempt to keep organizations from hoarding big-league-ready players in the minor leagues, so it’s actually a really good thing. Teams are able to protect eligible players (in short: guys who’ve been in the system four or five years but have never been on the big league roster) by putting them on their 40-man roster, as the Cubs recently did with Adbert Alzolay, Oscar de la Cruz, and David Bote. If unprotected, a player can be selected for $100,000, and then kept by his new team … if he can stick on the 25-man roster (with allowances for DL time) all season. If the player doesn’t stick, he has to be offered back to his former team for $50,000.
It is rare that a notable player comes out of the Rule 5 Draft, but it does happen. Odubel Herrera is the most notable recent example.
There is also the minor league phase of the Rule 5 Draft, where players who were unprotected on various minor league rosters are eligible for selection and keeping (no stay-on-the-roster-all-year requirement). It’s extremely rare that future big leaguers are taken in this phase, but the Cubs did lose Justin Bour this way a few years ago to the Marlins.
We recently discussed the draft-eligible Cubs prospects of note, and hopefully the Cubs don’t lose any today. As for whether the Cubs will make any selections, it’s always possible there’s a relief prospect they want to bring into Spring Training and check out, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the Cubs simply passed this year.
I’ll update this post live as the draft goes on. UPDATE: The Cubs passed with their pick. Sorry for the lacking updates, the Steve Cishek signing took me away.
UPDATE 2: The Cubs lost relief prospect Pedro Araujo to the Orioles. He’s put up fantastic numbers in the minor leagues, is polished, and was rostered for the Arizona Fall League this year. He could be very good. The rub? He’s 24 and hasn’t really pitched above A-ball. It’ll be tough for him to stick with even the rebuilding Orioles all season.
Here’s the draft order for this morning (teams with full 40-man rosters are not able to pick):
1. Tigers: Victor Reyes, OF (D-backs)
2. Giants: Julian Fernandez, RHP (Rockies)
3. Phillies: Nick Burdi, RHP (Twins)
4. White Sox: Carlos Tocci, OF (Phillies)
5. Reds: RHP Brad Keller (D-backs)
10. Blue Jays
24. Red Sox