The Three B’s of the Rule 5 Draft: Background, Basics, and the Bottom-line

Background: According to the MLB.com Rule 5 Draft webpage:

“Every year, Major League Baseball holds two player drafts. Most fans are familiar with and have a basic understanding of the First-Year Player Draft, which occurs each June and deals with amateur players in the United States and Puerto Rico. But the Rule 5 Draft, which takes place in December and concerns professional players, is less understood.”

Basics: Per MLB.com:

“A team that selects a player in the Rule 5 Draft pays $50,000 to the team from which he was selected. The receiving team must then keep the player on the Major League 25-man roster for the entirety of the next season, and the selected player must remain active (not on the disabled list) for a minimum of 90 days. If the player does not remain on the Major League roster, he is offered back to the team from which he was selected for $25,000. If his original team declines, the receiving team may waive the player. Once a player is selected, he is automatically assigned to his new organization’s 40-man roster.

Players who were signed when they were 19 or older and have played in professional baseball for four years are eligible, as are players who were signed at 18 and have played for five years.  All players on a Major League Baseball team’s 40-man roster, regardless of other eligibility factors, are “protected” and ineligible for the Rule 5 Draft. Teams draft in reverse order of the regular-season standings. Any team that does not have any vacancies on its 40-man roster may not make a selection.”

The most successful players taken in the Rule 5 Draft include: Roberto Clemente, Johan Santana, Dan Uggla, Josh Hamilton and Joakim Soria. For a closer look at the top available players in the Rule 5 Draft for 2017, Jeff Todd with MLBTradeRumors.com has a good list.

There is also a Triple-A part of the Rule 5 Draft. You can learn more about the Rule 5 Draft here.

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With the current Major League Baseball Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) set to expire December 1, 2016, the new CBA may include different Rule 5 language, directions, and limits.  Commissioner Rob Manfred has said that he hopes the Players Association and Owners will have a new Agreement in place before the deadline. You can read more about that here, here, and here.

However, if nothing changes, here is what you might expect from the Los Angeles Dodgers Front Office in December 2016.

Formerly under General Manager Ned Colletti, the Dodgers utilized the Rule 5 Draft to supplement their roster. Now under the stewardship of President of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman, the Dodgers have continued that spirit and will look to protect their best young players, while acquiring some talent. In 2015, the Dodgers picked up a few players during the Triple-A portion of the Rule 5 Draft. With the Dodgers trading second baseman Howie Kendrick to the Philadelphia Phillies Sunday, it looks the Dodgers will have some decisions to make with the acquired players in the deal, which may have some effect on the Dodgers Rule 5 decision-making. The Dodgers 40-man roster can be reviewed here. Pitcher Vidal Nuno (acquired in the catcher Carlos Ruiz trade with the Seattle Mariners and Darin Ruf (from the trade with the Phillies) have both been placed on the 40-man roster, so far.

[graphiq id=”2tgWhMDk7oF” title=”Darin Ruf Career Batting Triple Slash” width=”640″ height=”494″ url=”https://w.graphiq.com/w/2tgWhMDk7oF” link=”http://baseball-players.pointafter.com/l/14226/Darin-Ruf” link_text=”PointAfter | Graphiq” ]

The Think Blue LA blog put together a complete list of the Dodgers players who are subject to the Rule 5 Draft this year. You can view the article by Ron Cervenka published on Friday, here. As we predicted, pitcher Chin-hui Tsao did not remain on the Dodgers 40-man roster, which opened space for a player to be added.

Three players the Dodgers will try to protect include three of the Organization’s top 30 prospects. Those players being pitchers Chase De Jong (no. 17), Jacob Rhame (no. 19), and third baseman/catcher Kyle Farmer (no. 24). You may also be familiar with power-hitting first baseman and left fielder O’Koyea Dickson who is subject to the Rule 5 Draft this year. In recent years, he has been a bright star in the Dodgers Spring Training games. These players will need to move to the Dodgers 40-man roster to be protected.

De Jong racked up 141+ innings pitched at Double-A and finished the season in Triple-A. He is the most likely candidate to be added to the Dodgers 40-man roster because of his upside and talent. Dickson is blocked by the Dodgers no. 1 prospect and first baseman/outfielder Cody Bellinger and is likely to be unprotected unless another player gets traded or released. Dodgers back-up catcher Austin Barnes is further along than Kyle Farmer and Dodgers starter Yasmani Grandal is only 27 years-old so Farmer is a likely unprotected candidate. Rhame pitched in 60+ innings, but Organizational depth is likely to mean Rhame being left unprotected.

The Dodgers have been one of the more active teams this offseason and we are only a couple weeks into it, it is anyone’s guess what will happen in the coming weeks. With free agents, closer Kenley Jansen and third baseman Justin Turner, two additional spots may be cleared. Strategically, do the Dodgers wait to sign or trade players or free agents until after the Rule 5 Drafts ends to protect players? We will know more soon and will be watching closing as there as several moving parts including a new Collective Bargaining Agreement and roster moves between the Minor and Major League level. Ideally, the Dodgers will want to keep all their Rule 5 eligible players unless they find a player of value to pick up when their draft turn arises or via the trade and free agent markets.

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Jeremy Evans

Jeremy M. Evans is the Founder & Managing Attorney at California Sports Lawyer®, representing entertainment, media, and sports clientele. Evans is an award-winning attorney and industry leader based in Los Angeles.

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