Musings on the upcoming Rule 5 draft
After a crazy weekend that saw the Red Sox acquire Adrian Gonzalez, a deal that we know the Nationals can’t make and then the long-awaited (and longer complained about) big free-agent signing, Jayson Werth, that a fellow reporter-turned-blogger called, we’re way, way, way back on the burner of the hot stove.
But as the headline says, our focus turns to the Rule 5 draft.
As you might imagine, the majority of information out there is organization-focused (*ahem*) but a common thread among many folks is the lament that no “impact” players will be taken. That’s because in the last CBA, the “Rule 5 rules” were changed to, in a nutshell, give organizations another year to evaluate talent… and drain the talent pool. Baseball America discusses this trend in a story published last week.
Sadly, another trend is that the lion’s share of information out there is focused on the major-league phase of the draft. There are also two other phases, the AAA and the AA, which are something of a misnomer because there’s no requirement that the player has played or will play at that level in 2010 or 2011. Basically, it amounts to teams being able to protect up to 38 players in the AAA phase and up to 37 players in the AA phase.
Who is or will be protected is anyone’s guess. It appears that this information simply is not released to anyone outside of baseball. Last year, the Nationals “lost” Zech Zinicola in the major-league phase, Ruben De La Rosa and Terrence Engles were taken in the AAA phase, and Johan Figuereo went in the AA phase. On the plus side, the Nationals acquired Jamie Hoffman from the Dodgers and traded him to the Yankees for Brian Bruney in the MLB phase, while Nick Moresi and Arismendy Mota got picked up in the AAA phase, with Mota traded to the Chicago Cubs for cash considerations.
In all phases, the Rule 5 draft has become primarily an exercise of looking for bullpen help (e.g. Zinicola), secondarily an act of plugging holes in the roster (e.g. Moresi). Baseball America has done a preview of who might be taken, which will be the focus of our next post. Unlike the past two years, it’s not a matter of who’s the best guy to take, but who will be available when it’s the Nationals’ turn to pick.