MLB Rule 5 Draft: What is it? When is it? Why is it important?

On December 7, baseball’s annual Winter Meetings will conclude with the Rule 5 Draft. The draft returns after a one-year hiatus caused by the lockout. It’s an event that gets talked about quite a bit in baseball circles every winter, but it’s often not well understood. So what Is rule 5 draft? Why does it exist? And what impact has it had on baseball history? Let’s dive in.

What is the MLB Rule 5 Draft?

The Rule 5 draft has existed in various forms since the 1890s, but in all of its iterations the drive behind the draft has been to ensure that organizations do not accumulate MLB-ready talent in the minor leagues as non-roster players. for now. There are two parts to the Rule 5 draft – the major league part and the minor league part. Players selected to the major leagues must remain in the active major leagues of their new team for one season or be offered back to their original organization for a fee. Players selected for the minor league join their new organizations without roster restrictions.

A lot goes into deciding which players to protect and which to leave eligible. Teams must weigh the risk of losing prospects who may not feel ready to help them at the major league level in order to keep 40-man roster spots available for the players they need this coming season. Hundreds of players are eligible each year, but most are not selected and remain with their current organization as non-roster players. In the 2020 Rule 5 draft, only 16 players were selected in the major leagues.

(Note: The minor league Rule 5 draft was last December. Fifty-one players were selected in that draft.)

Who is eligible for the Rule 5 draft?

Players are eligible for the first time if they 1) are not on their team’s 40-man roster and 2) are experiencing their fourth Rule 5 draft if they were either 19 or older the year they signed their first professional contract, or are experiencing their fifth its rules. 5 drafts if they were 18 or younger the year they signed their first pro contract. (CliffsNotes version: Players who were 19 or older and signed in 2019 or earlier, or players who were 18 or younger and signed in 2018 or earlier are eligible for this year’s draft.)

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All non-roster players with the above eligibility requirements are available for the major league draft. Those eligible players not recorded on the team’s offseason Triple-A roster are eligible for the minor league share.

What is the deadline for protecting players from the Rule 5 draft?

Teams must add prospects who are eligible for the Rule 5 draft to their 40-man rosters by Nov. 15 to avoid entering the Rule 5 draft pool.

When is the rule 5 draft?

The Rule 5 draft will be held in San Diego at the Winter Meetings on Wednesday, December 7th. It is the last event of the winter meetings. Any team with open spots on their 40-man roster has the opportunity to select a player, although they can no longer make selections once they have moved the selection (or once they have a full 40-man roster). The draft continues until all teams have decided to pass on picks or have full 40-man rosters. The draft order is the same as the upcoming Rule 4 amateur draft.

Is there a fee for selecting a player in the Rule 5 draft?

Yes, and like everything else, costs go up.

Before the new collective bargaining agreement took effect in February, teams that selected a player in the major league portion of the Rule 5 draft had to pay $50,000 to the team from which they selected the player. If the new team chose not to keep the Rule 5 pick on their active roster, they would first have to place the player on waivers and, if the player cleared waivers, offer the player back to their old team for $25,000. Under the new CBA, the selection fee is now $100,000 and the player would be offered $50,000 back.

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Can the picks in Rule 5 be changed?

Yes, and two of the most famous Rule 5 picks were traded by the team that picked them – Johan Santana and Josh Hamilton. The Marlins drafted Santana out of the Astros system in 1999, but was immediately traded to the Twins. The Cubs selected Hamilton in the 2006 draft out of the Rays chain, but he was immediately traded to the Rangers. Teams that acquire a Rule 5 pick through a trade are bound by the same roster restrictions as if they made the selection themselves.

Can teams hide Rule 5 selections from the injured list?

kind of. Teams sometimes target players coming off major surgeries in the Rule 5 draft because they can keep those players on the major league 60-day injured list. However, unless a player spends at least 90 days on the active roster during a Rule 5 season, he is subject to the same roster restrictions the following year.

Will there ever be any good players in the Rule 5 draft?

Yeah! Teams don’t often find stars in the Rule 5 draft (the most common goal in the Rule 5 draft is a hard-throwing reliever or utility player with good defensive skills), but it has happened. The aforementioned Santana and Hamilton are two examples.

George Bell joined the Blue Jays in 1980 via the Rule 5 draft. Shane Victorino was a Rule 5 pick two years in a row. He didn’t stick with the Padres in 2003, but found success with the Phillies in 2004 and spent eight seasons in Philadelphia. Joakim Soria began his 14-year major league career as a Rule 5 pick for the Royals in the 2006 draft. Dan Uggla (2005) and Graeme Lloyd (1992) are two others who began long major league careers as Rule 5 picks.

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The most famous Rule 5 pick is Roberto Clemente, who was selected by the Pirates out of the Dodgers organization in 1954. Prior to that, the Cubs acquired Hack Wilson from the New York Giants in that era’s Rule 5 draft.

More recently, Marwin González (2011), Héctor Rondón (2012), Mark Canha (2014), Odúbel Herrera (2014), Brad Keller (2017), Akil Baddoo (2020), Garrett Whitlock (2020) and Trevor Stephan (2020). have made a significant impact with teams acquiring them through the Rule 5 draft.

The minor league portion of the Rule 5 draft has also picked up a few gems, including Tyler Gilbert, the left-hander selected by the Diamondbacks in 2020. Gilbert made his major league debut in 2021 and pitched in his first game. major league start. The Astros carried Seth Martinez, a minor league Rule 5 pick in 2020, in every round of their playoffs except this fall’s World Series. He had a 2.09 ERA in 38 2/3 regular season innings with Houston in 2022. The A’s selected Zach Jackson in the same minor league Rule 5 draft. He made his major league debut in 2022 and had a 2.78 FIP and 67 strikeouts in 48 innings. Russell Wilson was once a minor league Rule 5 pick who went from the Rockies to the Rangers.

(File photo of the 2013 Rule 5 draft: Phelan M. Ebenhack/Associated Press)


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