Two years ago, the Nats took four in the minor-league phase of the Rule 5 Draft. Last year, they took one—Thad Ward—via the MLB phase. This year, they did both – one in the MLB phase, and four in the minor-league phases for a total of five players.
One the one hand, you can argue the Nats are doing what the system is designed to do: enable last-place teams with weak farm systems to rebuild. (Yes, I know the Nats are a Top 15 farm system, but 90% of that ranking comes from roughly 10 or 11 players)
On the other hand, it’s really hard to not make the inference that this is mostly driven by economics, especially at the MLB level. Is Nasim Nuñez really better than Luis García now or perhaps Darren Baker next year? Defensively, probably, but it’s hard to conclude that a speedy, glove-first 2B is going to stick at the MLB level. And when was the last time Mike Rizzo decided a guy who can’t hit but can field should get playing time over the opposite?
As for the minor-league-phase picks, as was the case two years ago, these appear to be in lieu of free-agent signings:
- RHP Samuel Vasquez (CLE) – Spent all of 2023 at Low-A Lynchburg, repeating the level with a line of 4.54/3.94/1.43 in 42IP across 35 appearances
- RHP Wander Arias (KC) – pitched 65 innings in relief at High-A Quad Cities with a line of 6.23/4.52/1.52
- RHP Daison Acosta (NYM) – appears to have been coming off an injury with one start in the FSL in early May, then 29 appearances for AA Binghamton for 36 innings and a line of 4.75/5.53/1.44
- CF Moises Gallardo (OAK) – 2023 was his first in the U.S., having spent 2022 and 2021 in the DSL as a teenager (he turned 20 in April). Batted .280/.376/.452 in 31 games
Baseball America did name Gallardo as one of its 9 Minor League Rule 5 Picks That Caught Our Attention, describing him as the rather common “above-average raw power and a strong throwing arm, but needs to develop a feel for hitting and cut down on the swing-and-miss.” [Insert Elijah Green joke here]
As always, feel free to discuss in the comments.