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Article: Finer Points: Rule 5


Over the last few weeks, we've taken a deeper dive into how options work, when the fourth option is allowed and how DFA and waivers work.

 

This week, we'll look at the Rule 5 rules, including the draft and roster implications. To dive deep, we'd have to talk about very, very small details and you would probably lose interest and I wouldn't blame you.

 

So here's a shallow dive into the Rule 5 process. If there's more you're curious about, feel free to do so in the comments.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.

 

RULE 5 ELIGIBILITY

 

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?)

 

RULE 5 DRAFT

 

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.

 

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So if a player so selected in the "AAA" phase of the draft, they are just on that new team with no restrictions?

 

Yes, the twins selected Dusten Knight last year in this portion, although he was later released, he was in the organization with no restrictions

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The problem with trading some of these “surplus” prospects that will be rule 5 eligible this offseason is the fact that they will be rule 5 eligible. Unless they are close to contributing at the MLB level, it will be difficult for teams to roster them. It decreases roster flexibility to carry a guy on the 40 man that has no chance of contributing at the MLB level. So, a team risks making a trade essentially for nothing. That gets GMs fired.

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The problem with trading some of these “surplus” prospects that will be rule 5 eligible this offseason is the fact that they will be rule 5 eligible. Unless they are close to contributing at the MLB level, it will be difficult for teams to roster them. It decreases roster flexibility to carry a guy on the 40 man that has no chance of contributing at the MLB level. So, a team risks making a trade essentially for nothing. That gets GMs fired.

 

The Yankees had this issue last year. They made 7 trades in July and August, many involving guys that would need to be added (or fringe guys that they'd have to expose and possibly lose for nothing). 

 

I would look at it less like you do and more like, "It's a chance to get a guy without Rule 5 restrictions and keep them in the system." Three of the seven deals involved the Yankees moving players and getting international bonus money in return.  

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That Rule 5 crunch should definitely rush the development of Graterol, can't risk letting him go this November. With how well he's been pitching should be moved up to Rochester soon to give him a taste of higher competition.

There's absolutely no risk of letting Graterol go, no matter how we develop him this season. We just have to add him to the 40-man by November, which we can do regardless of what level he pitches at.

 

The upside of rushing him would be, if we have to add him to the 40-man in November anyway, we could add him on Sep. 1st and get a month of him in MLB without burning an option year (just the 30 days service time). But given his innings restrictions, it's hard to see him pitching through September, unless he misses a portion of the season earlier. He seems like a pretty clear Sep. 1st shutdown candidate, like Romero 2017 before him.

 

Mind you, I'd love to see him move up quickly and succeed, of course!

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So if a player so selected in the "AAA" phase of the draft, they are just on that new team with no restrictions?

Yes, but it's worth noting the AAA phase is completely different than the MLB phase. Each minor league club gets its own protection list, in addition to the MLB 40-man roster list. So the only guys available in the AAA phase are significantly more marginal than the MLB phase selections.

 

Over the last ~13 years, the most notable picks in the minor league phase appear to be Omar Narvaez, Justin Bour, and Brian Buscher.

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rule_5_draft_results

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That Rule 5 crunch should definitely rush the development of Graterol, can't risk letting him go this November. With how well he's been pitching should be moved up to Rochester soon to give him a taste of higher competition.

 

I'm not understanding. Why would they rush his development just because he has to be added to the 40-man roster in November? He will be added no matter what. He would be even if he was still in Ft. Myers or Cedar Rapids. 

 

That said, he's holding his own in AA and I wouldn't be surprised to see him get to AAA mid-season or so. I also wouldn't be surprised if at some point in the 2nd half, he was just called up from AA. 

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The Yankees had this issue last year. They made 7 trades in July and August, many involving guys that would need to be added (or fringe guys that they'd have to expose and possibly lose for nothing). 

 

I would look at it less like you do and more like, "It's a chance to get a guy without Rule 5 restrictions and keep them in the system." Three of the seven deals involved the Yankees moving players and getting international bonus money in return.  

Tangentially, I just can't recommend strongly enough (yet again) the game Out Of The Park (OOTP). It pretty faithfully reflects all these roster rules, requiring the player to think, I'm sure at a simplified level, like a GM. It can be played a lot of different ways, but if you take on the challenge of building up a franchise, rather than play just one season, you have to look ahead multiple seasons so as to not be faced with a lot of roster clutter lacking either trade value or non-redundant worth to your team.

 

It's my kryptonite. :)

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That Rule 5 crunch should definitely rush the development of Graterol, can't risk letting him go this November. With how well he's been pitching should be moved up to Rochester soon to give him a taste of higher competition.

He's already in AA. It doesn't really rush him b/c at some point he's probably in AAA this year anyways. Even if not, he would start in AAA next year.... so no real need to rush him. 

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also, I really don't understand why MLB doesn't push for an extra year for international FAs at age 16 or 17. That has been a problem with the Twins . Polanco was forced to be added to the 40 man while he was in high A. Thorpe had to burn an option last year as well b/c of this. 

 

There's so much more that can go wrong with a 16/17 yo, and so much more development needed. One would think that the extra year would be beneficial. 

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I'm not understanding. Why would they rush his development just because he has to be added to the 40-man roster in November? He will be added no matter what. He would be even if he was still in Ft. Myers or Cedar Rapids.

 

That said, he's holding his own in AA and I wouldn't be surprised to see him get to AAA mid-season or so. I also wouldn't be surprised if at some point in the 2nd half, he was just called up from AA.

I understand it is a somewhat moot point, because Graterol is well past this level. But if a guy was only at A ball, it is highly unlikely a team would protect him. Most teams can’t afford to carry an A ball player on their roster. Indeed, that is how Johan Santana fell into the Twins’ laps. In 2000, they could afford to carry a guy that had never pitched above A ball. Edited by yarnivek1972
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The problem with trading some of these “surplus” prospects that will be rule 5 eligible this offseason is the fact that they will be rule 5 eligible. Unless they are close to contributing at the MLB level, it will be difficult for teams to roster them. It decreases roster flexibility to carry a guy on the 40 man that has no chance of contributing at the MLB level. So, a team risks making a trade essentially for nothing. That gets GMs fired.

 

The problem with trading some of these “surplus” prospects that will be rule 5 eligible this offseason is the fact that they will be rule 5 eligible. Unless they are close to contributing at the MLB level, it will be difficult for teams to roster them. It decreases roster flexibility to carry a guy on the 40 man that has no chance of contributing at the MLB level. So, a team risks making a trade essentially for nothing. That gets GMs fired.

 

Yes and No. I mean it does limit roster flexibility somewhat, but I am certain that the Twins had any concerns about having added Jorge Polanco and Max Kepler when they hadn't played above Cedar Rapids yet. 

 

With how few people actually get drafted in the Rule 5 draft, I'm guessing there are some guys that they just hope sneak through. We have all been sure that Jake Reed would be selected twice. 

 

I think that the obvious adds are Graterol, Alcala, Duran, Colina.

Jax, Raley, and Blankenhorn are probably also going to be strongly considered too.

Smeltzer has put himself into consideration.

Celestino's struggles in Low A so far probably put him outside the borderline group. 

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I understand it is a somewhat moot point, because Graterol is well past this level. But if a guy was only at A ball, it is highly unlikely a team would protect him. Most teams can’t afford to carry an A ball player on their roster. Indeed, that is how Johan Santana fell into the Twins’ laps. In 2000, they could afford to carry a guy that had never pitched above A ball.

 

The rules were different when Santana was a Rule 5 pick of the Marlins. There was an extra year of evaluation, so you don't see as many from the lower levels taken. But top end talent is always going to get protected. 

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I think you may have missed one of the most important young prospects, Jeremy.  Wander Javier signed on July 2, 2015.  Unless there is something unusual with his signing, he would be Rule 5 eligible this December.  

 

Exchanged a couple comments with Seth about him recently.  Gotta expect he will be protected, but he has played very little since signing...a few at bats in 2016 in the DSL and then most of the 2017 season at Elizabethton.

 

Have one other question, Jeremy.  A high school senior who is 19 years old when drafted could be treated like the college kids and would have only 4 years protection.  That is correct, isn't it?  

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also, I really don't understand why MLB doesn't push for an extra year for international FAs at age 16 or 17. That has been a problem with the Twins . Polanco was forced to be added to the 40 man while he was in high A. Thorpe had to burn an option last year as well b/c of this. 

 

There's so much more that can go wrong with a 16/17 yo, and so much more development needed. One would think that the extra year would be beneficial. 

MLB already got an extra year before Rule 5 eligibility for all players in 2006. Under the current rules, Johan Santana wouldn't have been eligible for selection in Dec. 1999, and would have been property of the Astros for at least one year longer.

 

Beyond that, remember that when guys like Polanco or Thorpe take a 40-man spot, they're not necessarily bumping any meaningful contributors from a spot. Most teams have a few fringe guys on the roster at any given time anyway. And Polanco should have been eligible for a 4th option year (if not for an unrelated issue), and Thorpe is on track for a 4th option year as well, which helps make up for having to add them early.

 

So I could see how further Rule 5 protection might not be a bargaining priority for MLB teams.

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I understand it is a somewhat moot point, because Graterol is well past this level. But if a guy was only at A ball, it is highly unlikely a team would protect him. Most teams can’t afford to carry an A ball player on their roster. Indeed, that is how Johan Santana fell into the Twins’ laps. In 2000, they could afford to carry a guy that had never pitched above A ball.

Teams will protect A-ballers who are good, because they would get selected. If Graterol had been Rule 5 eligible last winter, he would have been added to our 40-man then, despite having not yet reached AA. Thorpe, Polanco, and Kepler were all protected out of A-ball too.

 

Obviously it's easier for some teams to stash players than others, but someone will stash a good prospect even if they're in A-ball. Especially pitchers, as it seems easier to stash them at the end of the pen (or on the DL). Javier could test the theory, for position players at least, this winter -- not sure if he'll have time to advance to AA in 2019.

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I think you may have missed one of the most important young prospects, Jeremy.  Wander Javier signed on July 2, 2015.  Unless there is something unusual with his signing, he would be Rule 5 eligible this December.  

 

Exchanged a couple comments with Seth about him recently.  Gotta expect he will be protected, but he has played very little since signing...a few at bats in 2016 in the DSL and then most of the 2017 season at Elizabethton.

 

Have one other question, Jeremy.  A high school senior who is 19 years old when drafted could be treated like the college kids and would have only 4 years protection.  That is correct, isn't it?  

 

YES! Javier is eligible. I clicked through the rosters and didn't think to look at the guys still at Extended. 

 

As far as the 19-year-old high schooler, yes, that's how the rule states... though I don't recall any prospects in the Twins system where this came into play. (They are probably out there, but not guys that have been definite adds.)

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YES! Javier is eligible. I clicked through the rosters and didn't think to look at the guys still at Extended. 

 

As far as the 19-year-old high schooler, yes, that's how the rule states... though I don't recall any prospects in the Twins system where this came into play. (They are probably out there, but not guys that have been definite adds.)

I did a similar exercise about a month ago.  Came up with pretty much the same list, thinking that there are 7 guys that are most likely going to need to be added:  Jax, Raley, Alcala, Graterol, Smeltzer, Duran and Javier.  Then there is the next group that will take some thought about whether to add or not.  That includes: Cabbage, Blankenhorn, Hackimer, Poppen, Wiel, Stashek and Diaz.  Wouldn't be surprised if at least one the this group is also added, maybe two.

 

After that, took a look at who will be gone from the current roster and who could be DFA'd.  Had way more than 8 players, including guys like Morin, Magill, Mejia, Moya, Vasquez, Torreyes.  Add in a couple of the free agents who will no longer be around (Pineda, Reed, Castro, Schoop, Gibby, Odorizzi) and there shouldn't be a problem adding 8 or 9.  The one thing we can cound on, however, is we are going to see a lot of turnover on the 40-man come November.   

Edited by rdehring
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Have one other question, Jeremy.  A high school senior who is 19 years old when drafted could be treated like the college kids and would have only 4 years protection.  That is correct, isn't it?  

 

That is correct... the Twins have had a couple such examples... without looking I believe Ben Revere and Dereck Rodriguez were both 19 when they signed. 

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Referring back to a previous Finer Points article and considering Misael Urbina's age, is he a decent bet to qualify for a 4th option at some point?

Yes, theoretically most young international signees are in position to potentially have 4 option years. Although if he's good enough, he might not even use 3 options before he has 5 "full" (90+ day) professional seasons.

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Referring back to a previous Finer Points article and considering Misael Urbina's age, is he a decent bet to qualify for a 4th option at some point?

Should be exciting to see Urbina play when the DSL opens in a bit over a month.  Would really like to see him tear up that league.

 

Although it has to be tough for 17-year old kids to leave their home for the summer in the D.R.  Speaking of that, does anyone know if any of these kids have a problem getting out of Venezuela with everything going on there?  Doesn't seem to have any effect on the many Venezuelan's currently on the Twins roster.

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Gotta remember for the guys on the roster currently they were mostly already in the US by early February. Most of what's going on in VZ right now didn't start until late March. I imagine it would be a lot more difficult to get out currently

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That Rule 5 crunch should definitely rush the development of Graterol, can't risk letting him go this November. With how well he's been pitching should be moved up to Rochester soon to give him a taste of higher competition.

I don’t see why the rush with him. They don’t have to immediately call him up or anything. Some players need to be added earlier than others in their development process (Polanco is a great example) but there’s no need to rush things with your top prospects.
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