Today is the day for teams to protect players for the upcoming Rule 5 draft. Teams have until midnight to add players to the 40-man roster, or risk those players being exposed in the draft this December. The first time eligible players this year are high school players from the 2009 draft and college players from the 2010 draft. The Pirates currently have four open spots on the 40-man roster. They could clear more spots if needed. Other teams will be clearing spots to protect their prospects, which means the Pirates could also use a spot to claim players on waivers, which they’ve done in previous years.
Two weeks ago I listed the eligible players and the guys who are likely to be protected. It’s a guarantee that the Pirates will protect Alen Hanson and Gregory Polanco. I’d say there’s also a very strong chance they protect Joely Rodriguez and Casey Sadler. That would cover the four open spots on the 40-man roster. From that point, the Pirates would have to clear roster spots if they wanted to protect someone like Stetson Allie, Gift Ngoepe, Mel Rojas, or Zack Thornton.
If the Pirates need to clear roster space, two of the top candidates to be designated for assignment would be Andy Oliver and Jerry Sands. Both players are out of options heading into the 2014 season, which means they would both need to make the 25-man roster next year, or be designated for assignment at the end of Spring Training. Neither player showed any indication in 2013 that they were ready for the majors. They will eventually be removed from the 40-man roster, whether that’s now, later in the off-season, or at the end of Spring Training.
The benefit of removing them now is that they have a better chance of clearing waivers over the next few days. There will be a lot of players on waivers with other teams looking to clear roster space. Other teams will also be saving roster spots for potential free agents. This doesn’t mean a team won’t claim Oliver or Sands. It just means that they have the best chance of clearing waivers if they’re DFAd tomorrow.
Travis Snider could also fit in the above category. He’s out of options, and I don’t see him making the active roster. If he does make the active roster, it would come at the expense of Andrew Lambo or Jose Tabata. Both players deserve to make the majors over Snider. I also don’t think the Pirates will offer him arbitration, which means they could either designate him for assignment now, or non-tender him in a few weeks.
Garrett Jones is in the same situation as Snider. I don’t think he will be tendered a contract, which means it’s only a matter of time until he is off the roster. I could see the Pirates holding him until the non-tender deadline, especially if they make some of the above moves.
The Pirates don’t need too many spots beyond the four spots they currently have available. They would have had to protect Brandon Cumpton and Andrew Lambo this year, but they already accomplished that by adding both to the 40-man roster during the regular season. Therefore, some of the roster decisions for the 2013 Rule 5 draft have already been made. I could see them protecting maybe 1-2 more players beyond Polanco, Hanson, Rodriguez, and Sadler. However, I don’t think any of the remaining players make a strong case to be protected, as there aren’t many who stand the risk of being drafted and protected all year by a major league team next year.
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