Today is the deadline for teams to set their 40-man rosters in preparation for the Rule 5 draft on December 6th. Like the Kardashians, this gets WAY more attention than it deserves, but people can’t help themselves from writing about it, largely because we’re in a dead zone between the end-of-season awards and the Baseball Winter Meetings.
Unlike years past, the Nationals are more likely to “lose” a player than get one (at least in the major-league phase). Quotes because both players lost last December — Erik Komatsu and Brad Meyers — were eventually returned, both undergoing surgery during the season.
The rules are pretty simple: Players that signed at 19 or older and have been in the organization for four years or players that signed at 18 or younger and have been in the organization for five years — if they’re not on the 40-man by tonight, they’re eligible. As noted in the comments, this basically boils down to 2009 college picks and 2008 HSers and IFAs.
ELIGIBLE FOR THE FIRST TIME
|Pat Lehman*||Destin Hood*||Paul Applebee*||Graham Hicks|
|Jeff Kobernus*||Sean Nicol||Matt Swynenberg*||Dean Weaver|
|Danny Rosenbaum*||Justin Bloxom||J.P. Ramirez||Bobby Hansen Jr.|
|Paul Demny*||Nathan Karns*||Adrian Nieto*||Shane McCatty|
|Trevor Holder||Rob Wort||Taylor Jordan||Andruth Ramirez|
Asterisks are for the 2012 Watchlist players and italics are for players that were either hurt, had surgery, or are believed to have had surgery. I’m italicizing both Karns and Jordan to illustrate the more salient point that other organizations may deem their health as suspect. I’m focusing on the first-timers because picks on subsequently eligible players are uncommon (you can look at last year’s list if you need further convincing).
As you can see, there aren’t very many players that were both healthy and high-profile — just five of these 20. Of those five, just two played at AA (Demny and Rosenbaum) and one at AAA (Lehman). Teams picking anyone else are going to be gambling that the player’s injury is healed and didn’t impede their development.
As of this writing, there are only four spots available on the 40-man roster. Conventional wisdom suggests that the Nationals will both add players and outright players to preserve space for free agents and waiver claims. I’ll admit to being fuzzy on the precise rules, but there doesn’t appear to be any restrictions on waivers made prior to the November 30th non-tender deadline.
I believe we’ll see two players protected: Karns and Rosenbaum. While both are starting pitchers currently, both could be hidden in a losing ballclub’s bullpen. Here’s why I’m not convinced on the others at the AA level or above. This is not an indictment of the player, just an interpretation of how/why the Washington Nationals will decline to add him to the 40-man roster…
…Lehman, like Josh Wilkie before him, is probably going to be exposed to the draft because he doesn’t throw hard enough for the organization’s tastes.
…As mentioned yesterday, scouts have noticed a drop in Demny’s velocity, which, coupled with his struggles at Harrisburg, might be enough for most teams to pass.
…The signing of Will Rhymes is a hint (to me at least) that Washington may risk losing Kobernus, not to mention his injury history overall.
…Hood is just too unaccomplished at AA and lacks the Eury Perez-like defensive/pinch-running tools to be stashed on an MLB bench.