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  1. Finer Points: Rule 5

    The Rule 5 draft works very closely with the 40-man roster rules. Teams must add players to their 40-man roster to avoid exposure in the Rule 5 draft where players could be lost to another organization.


    We start, simply, at the beginning when a player is first drafted or signed. Most players sign their first professional contract after being drafted or signed as an international free agent.

    The Twins drafted college outfielder Trevor Larnach in the first round of the 2018 draft. They drafted prep outfielder Willie Joe Garry eight rounds later.

    The rules state that these players are exempt from the Rule 5 draft for an amount of time after they are initially signed:

    “A minor league player who was 18 or younger on the June 5th immediately prior to signing his first contract is eligible for selection starting with the 5th Rule 5 Draft, and a minor league player who was 19 years or older on the June 5th immediately prior to signing his first contract becomes eligible for selection starting with the 4th Rule 5 Draft.”

    In Larnach’s case, the first Rule 5 draft that he will be eligible for (or need to be protected before) is 2021. In Garry’s case, the first Rule 5 draft that he will be eligible for/protected before is the following year, 2022.

    International free agent outfielder Masiel Urbina signed with the Twins last July. He will fall on the same timeline as the drafted high schoolers, being first-time eligible in 2022. The difference, obviously, is high school graduates signing at 18 years old, while international players are signing at 16, subjecting them to eligibility while being two years younger than their drafted counterparts.

    IFAs who sign after the conclusion of the minor league season would have one more year before they’d need to be protected. This was the case with Miguel Sano. Despite signing in the same class as Max Kepler and Jorge Polanco, he didn’t need to be added to the 40-man roster until a year later.

    (Jeremy’s note: International free agents can’t play the first year after they sign, but that partial season does count towards their protection clock. I’ve long wondered why teams don’t reach an agreement with their players, slow play taking care of the physical and actual signing, and then officially announce the whole class right after the conclusion of the minor league season. That gives the organization one more year to evaluate. Plus, most of these deals are reached with players well before they turn 16, so what’s a couple more months to wait before receiving the money?)


    The Rule 5 Draft is the last thing to happen at the Winter Meetings, on Thursday morning. All players who are not protected on a 40-man roster or exempt from selection can be chosen by another team. The drafting team must have space on their 40-man roster.

    There are two phases to the draft.

    The Major League Phase and the Minor League (“AAA”) Phase. In the Major League Phase, teams draft a player and pay the opposing club $100,000. The AAA Phase costs a team $24,000 to select a player.

    Both drafts will continue until all teams pass on a selection. Once a team passes, it may not jump back in and draft again.

    All drafted players in the Major League Phase must remain on the major-league (active) roster for whole next season or be offered back to their previous team (and get half their money back).

    A player like Nick Burdi, who the Twins lost to the Pirates, spent most of last season on the disabled list. He must be active for 90 days before the Pirates can option him to the minors.

    There is no requirement for players drafted in the minor league phase.

    Classes that will be first time eligible for the Rule 5 draft this November: College draftees in 2016 (Griffin Jax, Thomas Hackimer), prep draftees in 2015 (Travis Blankenhorn, Trey Cabbage) and IFAs in late 2014 or 2015 (Brusdar Graterol, Edwar Colina)

    This also includes those who were acquired via trade that fit the aforementioned criteria (Luke Raley, Devin Smeltzer, Jorge Alcala, Jhoan Duran, Gilberto Celestino, Gabriel Maciel).

    The Twins are going to be facing a massive roster crunch. That is, if they don’t package a number of these guys together to improve their bullpen or deepen their rotation this summer.

    • May 16 2019 07:11 AM
    • by Jeremy Nygaard