Although it has long been the expectation that the Major League phase of the Rule 5 Draft would take place soon after the lockout ends, that sentiment is changing thanks to the calendar.
With minor league Spring Training getting underway, and their seasons approaching, it’s becoming increasingly problematic to think about having a full and fair Rule 5 Draft before the big league season begins, whenever that is. From Ken Rosenthal and Jayson Stark:
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) March 4, 2022
In short, team executives are worried about losing players in the draft based on protections decisions that were made four months ago. The landscape – and the scouting – can change so much between then and now. Also, with a brief and weird Spring Training on tap, it might be uniquely tricky for a Rule 5 pick to actually make the team (and/or teams might pick a prospect who just had surgery, knowing that they can almost immediately put him on the 60-day IL, unlike back in December). Moreover, the looming Rule 5 has most teams closing their spring camps to scouts, which creates problems for potential future trade discussions.
Of course, the flip side is that the Rule 5 Draft exists to help players who are otherwise being held down in the minors when plausibly ready for a big league job. Getting picked in the draft is a huge and immediate bump in pay for the players selected, and can move their careers forward in a very significant way. It could suck for 10 to 20 prospects to lose the draft.
If the draft is ultimately cancelled, I don’t really see a huge needle-move either way for the Cubs. On the one hand, as a not-clearly-a-playoff-team type team, the Cubs might’ve been a little more able than most to draft and then carry a player. On the other hand, the Cubs have the kind of very young and crowded 40-man (which pushes others out), and the kind of very deep farm system, that might create a situation where they get plundered.
So, other than always enjoying following the Rule 5, I don’t have SUPER strong feelings this time around. The lockout just sucks, and it’s messing things up. That is, I suppose, my main point.