Last year, in advance of rosters being set for the Rule 5 draft, I posted some information on the eligibility of all players in the Blue Jays system, including for future years. Throughout the past year, I have been periodically keeping this file up to date with the intention of doing the same thing this year, and was waiting initially for minor league free agents to be declared in early November to avoid having a bunch of names who would not be necessarily part of the organization in 2013. For various reasons, including overhauling the spreadsheets I keep to track and produce these lists to make things easier, and the blockbuster deal last week (my plan was actually to post that night if possible and then obviously I got sidetracked), I haven't got around to it. But the deadline for setting the rosters is tomorrow (Nov. 20), and so I want to get this up now.
I originally intended for that post just to be useful for the couple weeks preceding the Rule 5 draft, but I noticed that a number of people were using it as a reference file throughout the year. Therefore, my goal this year was to add some useful information, including signing bonuses were they are known, highest level reached for every player, and options used/remaining. I have added signing bonuses, but I did not get around to adding highest level reached and for most of these players options used/remaining is not meaningful since most have not played in MLB. If you think this is useful, let me know in the comments, and if there's a consensus I'll work on adding it soon.
SOME BACKGROUND ON RULE 5 (and how AA found another part of the system to game)
The basic goal of the Rule 5 is to prevent teams from stockpiling talent in the minors, and every year a draft is held (usually during the Winter Meetings, but this is not required) in which MLB teams can select eligible players from other organizations who are not on their teams 40 Man (Major League) Roster for $50,000. That player then has to stay on the 25 Man Active Roster roster for the entire subsequent season, or be offered back to the original team. A player is eligible for selection in the Rule 5 Draft on the 4th Rule 5 draft since the he joined the organization if he was 19 or older when he joined, or the 5th Rule 5 Draft if he was under 19. In 2012, that means most high school players drafted in 2008 and college players drafted in 2009 are first time eligible, in addition to those from years prior.
Where it gets interesting is that last year I assumed that the age is determined according to the age of the player on the date he signed, but I subsequently came across the Major League Rules and found out this isn't the case. Rule 5(c)(1)(A) and (B) provide that the date used to determine the player's age is the June 5th preceding his signing. Moreover, 5(c)(1)(C) adds another wrinkle: if a player signs a contract in the time period the end of the team's season to which the player is assigned (usually late August/early September) and the Rule 5 draft, the contract is deemed to have been signed after the Rule 5 draft. This last provision has interesting implications for the signing of international free agent contracts in particularly, and collectively they divide the calender into 4 portions in terms of how the timing of a signing can affect the Rule 5 clock:
1) January 1 to June 5. If a player signs during this period, then his Rule 5 age will be determined by his age on June 5 the previous year. Depending on the player's age, he will be eligible to be selected in the Rule 5 either 3 or 4 years later. For example, recent signee Yeyfry Del Rosario was signed on May 28, 2011. His age for Rule 5 purposes is not his actual age at signing of 17, but his age of 16 on June 5, 2010 (not that it affects anything for him), and he will be eligible in 2015.
2) June 6 to end of assigned minor league season (late Aug/Early Sept). This is the most common signing time period, since it covers all draftees with the advent of an August signing deadline in the 2006 CBA (moved in July in new CBA). Since the international signing period opens on July 2, a number of high profile players will be signed in this period too. For these players, their age for Rule 5 purposes will be their age on June 5 or the same year, and likewise depending on age they will be eligible 3 or 4 years from the current year.
3) End of minor league season to Rule 5 draft (usually early December). Similar to players signed in the second time period, their Rule 5 age will be determined according to their age on June 5 of the same year. However, unlike those players, their contracts will not be deemed to have signed until after the Rule 5 draft, and instead of being Rule 5 eligible in 3 or 4 years from the time of signing, they will be eligible in 4 or 5 years. And there-in lies the opportunity to game the system.
International free agents often sign at 16 or 17, meaning they need Rule 5 protection by age 20 or 21, when they can still be very young and raw. If a team and player agree to terms in early July when the signing period opens (or even before, as is usually the case), but instead of signing immediately delay signing for 2 months, then an extra year of eligibility is gained. Typically, Blue Jays' international signees would be assigned to the Dominican Summer League, whose season ended last year on August 25 or the Gulf Coast League, whose season ended August 25. Less than a week later on August 30, the Jays officially announced the signings of several high-profile players they had been linked to, including Roberto Osuna and Wiulmer Becerra. As a result, they were deemed signed after the Rule 5 draft, and will only be eligible in 2016. Similarly, this year the Jays have been linked since July 2 to Franklin Barreto and Richard Urena, but are yet to officially announce the signings, which means if they do sign, they will only be Rule 5 eligible in 2017. Coincidence? Maybe. I tend to think not.
4) After Rule 5 Draft to December 31.Similar to the players in the 3rd group, these players will be only be eligible 4 or 5 calendar years after they sign. An example is Rolando Segovia, who signed in December 2011 and will only be Rule 5 eligible in 2016.
THE PLAYER LISTS
My goal has been to include every player in the Blue Jays organization, at least whose signing has been publicly disclosed. In fact, I've driven myself half crazy trying to make sure. That said, if there's anyone missing, or anything incorrect, please let me know in the comments so I can correct it. Some of the players listed as 2012 FA (for example Casey Beck) are players that should have been eligible for free agency according to my files and calculations, but weren't declared free agents earlier this month by MLB, meaning they likely re-signed (these are not always reported). It's possible some left the organization/retired. There is more information below on the details, as well some collected thoughts.
2012 FIRST TIME ELIGIBLE PLAYERS
2012 PREVIOUSLY ELIGIBLE PLAYERS
2013 FIRST TIME ELIGIBLE PLAYERS
2014 FIRST TIME ELIGIBLE PLAYERS
2015 FIRST TIME ELIGIBLE PLAYERS
2016 FIRST TIME ELIGIBLE PLAYERS
- IFA is international free agent. Last year I did not differentiate between international free agents and North American non-drafted free agents (who tend to be non-prospects), but it is a meaningful distinction and so I made the change.
- I have included Franklin Barreto and Richard Urena, even though the signings have not been officially announced.
- Last year I did not include players who had not advanced to a US-based league, unless they were a notable international signing. Largely, this was due to it being very difficult to find even basic info on them. In the past year, MLB is disclosing them in the transactions, so I have included them to make the lists truly comprehensive.
- For several of the IFAs, particularly the lesser known ones, the exact signing date is unknown, and consequently the exact Rule 5 eligibility cannot be known with certainty. In these cases, I have assumed that the signing date is June 1st (approximately the beginning of DSL season) of their first year played. For reasons I'll detail later, as long as they were signed after late August of the prior year, then their Rule 5 eligibility will not be affected. Nonetheless, I have italicized these players
- I have highlighted the players who are I think are potentially worthy of Rule 5 protection in pale yellow. Beyond the near term, this is basically players who were drafted high or received big bonuses, as well as a few standout performers or players I find interesting. For 2012, I also highlighted some players in light blue who I don't think the Jays will protect (simply because they don't have room), but whom I think other teams may think about
- Finally, there are a handful of players who did not appear in any organizational games this year, and were not mentioned in any transactions (ie, they weren't on injured list for the entire year, or at least weren't reported as such). Some of these players may have retired from baseball, or maybe they slipped through reporting cracks. I have searched high and low for information, but if anyone has something I've missed, please let me know. I have starred them(*) and also italicized them, but they are: Luis Sanchez, Misaul Diaz, Ronald Manchego, Tyler Powell, Matt Fields, Felix Moreno.
THOUGHTS ON WHAT THE JAYS WILL DO
- Last year I noted a looming catcher crunch, with Carlos Perez and AJ Jimenez needing to be protected, in addition to JPA and Travis d'Arnaud already on the 40 man. Perez being traded helped that, but with Buck and Wilson also on it, there's still a major crunch. I expect Jimenez will be protected, and that at least one catcher will be moved soon, since carrying 5 catchers is untenable.
- With the completion of the Marlins trade, Carreno DFA, and addition of Cabrera, the Jays need to remove a player to get down to 40. The obvious candidates to me are McCoy and Wade (which would create room for Jimenez). Beyond that, there are not any obvious candidates for removal, save potentially McGowan. My reading of the CBA would indicate that if McGowan cleared waivers, he's have to either accept the outright assignment or elect free agency and forfeit his contract. If so, a spot could potentially be created in this manner.
- Javier Avendano seems like an interesting decision to me. On one hand, he was dominant this past season as a starter in Vancouver and as a reliever in Lansing. He was a really nice find in last year's minor league Rule 5 draft, and it would be shame to potentially lose that. On the other hand, he projects as a reliever and is pretty far away from the majors, and there is a paucity of 40 man spots. I don't know if a team could stash him on the roster for a full season (or if they did, it could hurt his development), on the other hand if you're Houston or Chicago, etc and you really like him, why not? On balance, I doubt he gets added to the 40 man to be protected in the major league phase.
- Recent trades have made managing the 40 man roster in future years easier. In 2013, Asher Wojciechowski and Jake Marisnick would have been eligible, in addition to Carlos Perez this year. David Rollins and Justin Nicolino would have been 2014 eligibles, and Kevin Comer and Joe Musgrove 2015 eligibles. This represents the downside to having many high draft picks (assuming they work out): it creates a log jam in terms of available spots. The system is now more balanced, with fewer players requiring protection in the near future while the 40 man roster has many guaranteed contracts, while the MLB players acquired will have their contract expire as prospects require 40 man protection in the 2014-16 time period and are MLB ready