The Rule 5 draft is today at noon EST, and is usually the last big event of the Winter Meetings. I’m not sure that will be the case this year, since this has been a very active week, and there have been a lot of transactions this morning. Either way, the Dodgers will have to briefly abandon their plan of trading with every single MLB club at noon as all of the teams get together for the draft.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Rule 5 draft process, here is a brief description:
When a player is eligible for the Rule 5 draft, that means any team can select him in the draft, paying $50,000 to the former team. The drafting team has to protect that player by placing him on the 25-man roster for the entire 2015 season. If a team can’t keep the player on the 25-man roster, they must place the player on waivers. If the player is claimed, the new team has to keep the player on the 25-man roster or waive him. If the player clears waivers, they have to be offered back to their original team for $25,000. Rule 5 picks can be placed on the disabled list, but they must spend at least 90 days on the active roster. Otherwise their Rule 5 restrictions carry over to the 2016 season until they’ve reached 90 days total on the active roster.
A player getting picked doesn’t mean that player will be totally lost. The odds of players sticking in the majors for the entire season are very slim. It’s not impossible, as we saw last year with Wei-Chung Wang going to the Milwaukee Brewers. But most players exposed to the Rule 5 draft these days amount to waiver claims. You’re not really risking a potential impact player, and the worst that usually happens is that you lose a good middle reliever or a bench player.
Here are the players who are eligible from the Pirates’ system. I’ve recently added Angel Sanchez to the list since it was first published, although I don’t think he’ll be drafted.
There are some players who I think the Pirates could lose, and I profiled them in the link above. Several of those players are first basemen and outfielders, with the outfielders projecting for bench roles. On Monday I wrote about how the Pirates have a lot of players at these two positions in the upper levels. If one of these guys is selected, it wouldn’t be a good thing, but it also wouldn’t really impact the Pirates much. The one guy who was left unprotected who I think would be a big loss is Jason Creasy, who was hitting 95 MPH with his fastball this year in Bradenton, working in the low-90s, while showing the best control in the system.
If you’re looking for the odds that a player might be taken, Indians Baseball Insider has a great article looking at the 11-year history of the draft. First basemen represent 2% of the players taken during this time span, which is why I think Stetson Allie and Jose Osuna are fine. Outfielders represent 9%, which means there’s a bigger chance Mel Rojas and/or Keon Broxton get selected, although it’s not huge. Middle infielders combined represent 2%, so Gift Ngoepe should be safe for the second year in a row.
As for Creasy, 72% of players selected were pitchers, with 20% being starters. That makes him the most likely to be taken, although when you look at the levels where players were selected from, the odds get better. Out of the players taken in the last 11 years, 78% were in Double-A or higher. Creasy has only played as high as High-A.
I’ll update this post throughout the draft when/if the Pirates lose anyone, or select anyone. They have one open spot on the 40-man roster, giving them room for a pick. After the draft, expect a few transactions. The first will be the finalization of the Sean Rodriguez trade, with one of the draft-eligible players going to the Rays, if he doesn’t get taken in the draft. The Pirates could start to finalize some of their free agent deals after the draft, such as Francisco Liriano’s signing, and the long-delayed Radhames Liz deal.
UPDATE 11:36 AM: Here is a live stream to follow the Rule 5 draft.
UPDATE 12:08 PM: The Pirates passed on making a pick in the Rule 5 draft.
UPDATE 12:09 PM: Round one is complete and no Pirates were selected. Andy Oliver was taken by the Phillies in round two.
UPDATE 12:10 PM: The major league portion is complete. Oliver is the only player selected from the Pirates, and the Pirates didn’t take anyone. Oliver isn’t a big loss after the trade to acquire Antonio Bastardo. It’s interesting that the Phillies were the ones to select him, since he will probably replace Bastardo in their bullpen. The Pirates could have called him up in September, but went with Bobby LaFromboise as their third lefty. They also added Clayton Richard this off-season, which means they’ve got several lefty options in Triple-A, with Tony Watson and Antonio Bastardo in the majors.
The selection of Oliver was a bit of a surprise, considering he cleared waivers earlier in the year and went un-claimed. His performance in relief with Indianapolis this year must have raised his stock a bit. He had dominant season in Triple-A, with a 2.53 ERA in 64 innings, along with a 12.0 K/9 and a 6.6 BB/9. The walks are still an issue, and are probably what held him back in the Pirates’ system. They didn’t exactly improve as the season went on, walking 13 in 12 innings in August. If he can fix his control, he could be a good lefty in a MLB bullpen, comparable to Justin Wilson.
UPDATE 12:17 PM: JJ Cooper says that Jose Tabata is eligible for the minor league portion of the draft.
Jose Tabata is available in minor league phase of Rule 5 draft from Pirates. No one is going to take that contract.
— JJ Cooper (@jjcoop36) December 11, 2014
I agree that he won’t be taken. But it’s interesting, because a team could draft him and store him in the minors. But the contract will hold him back.
The minor league phase has started.
UPDATE 12:22 PM: The Rays took Luis Urena from the Pirates in the Triple-A portion of the Rule 5 draft. Urena was a toolsy outfielder with a lot of raw power and a plus arm, but had horrible plate patience. The Pirates converted him to a reliever last year.
The Pirates passed in the Triple-A phase of the draft.
UPDATE 12:25 PM: The Cardinals took Tyler Waldron in the Triple-A phase. He made it to Triple-A this year, posting a 3.79 ERA in 40.1 innings. He’s got a sinker that averages 90 MPH that has reached higher in shorter outings, and a good curveball. Waldron has dealt with injury problems in the past, including shoulder problems in 2013. His upside is a reliever, with the chance of making the majors. A more conservative projection has him as an upper level organizational guy who can provide pitching depth in Double-A and Triple-A.
UPDATE 12:30 PM: The Triple-A phase of the draft is over.
UPDATE 12:32 PM: The Pirates passed in the Double-A phase of the draft. They didn’t select anyone in the entire draft.
UPDATE 12:33 PM: The roundup of the Rule 5 draft: Pirates don’t take anyone, lose Andy Oliver to the Phillies in the Major League portion of the draft, and lose Luis Urena and Tyler Waldron in the Triple-A portion. There’s a chance that Oliver could return if he doesn’t stick in the majors all year, although that won’t matter much, since he’s still low on the depth charts for the Pirates’ bullpen. He would also be eligible for minor league free agency after the 2015 season. Urena is an organizational guy, although it will be interesting to see if the Rays use him as a hitter or keep him as a pitcher (they announced him as an outfielder). Waldron has a shot at the majors, but isn’t a significant loss.