The 2017 Winter Meetings wrap up today with the annual Rule 5 Draft. Once a solid source of talent, changes in the 2006 CBA that allowed teams an extra year before their prospects were eligible have reduced the chance of finding high impact players. But Joe Biagini is a good reminder of the ability to find diamonds in the rough.
The major league portion gets underway at 9:00 ET followed by the minor league portion, with everything streamed on MLB.com (link) and likely to last under 30 minutes. Based on reverse standings, the Blue Jays are 12th in line, but will have the 10th pick since San Diego and Oakland have full 40-man rosters and won't be able to pick. Perhaps the more interesting thing to me will be to see if the Jays lose a player for the first time since Brad Emaus in 2010 (more on that below)
Last year brought a few changes to the Rule 5 that remain in effect. The cost to select players is now $100,000 in the Major League portion (less $50,000 if the player is returned). There is now only one minor league phase, with the cost to select a player in this phase also doubled to $24,000.
To be perfectly honest I lack the Rule 5 fever that I usually have at this time, so this won’t be as comprehensive as in the past, but here are some background links:
- Last month I outlined the Rule 5 process and the protection decisions for the Blue Jays. Some more discussion on that below.
- The Rule 5 Eligible list in the BBB Library lays out all eligibles for this year, as well as when prospects in the organization will become eligible. The recently re-signed Luis Santos is also eligible.
- For more background on the Rule 5 and more Blue Jays history, this post from 2014 is useful. Mark Shapiro's Rule 5 history in Cleveland was detailed in last year's preview.
- J.J. Cooper at Baseball America has a guide, mostly behind a paywall, but with his top five names available showing. Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com put out a list of names late last month, and then an updated one yesterday. He also has a more in-depth preview.
Blue Jays players at risk
The big name of interest is of course Max Pentecost. But he’s far from the only interesting name, and for the second straight year no team left more players unprotected from their MLB.com Top 30 than the Blue Jays (seven).
Pentecost: There’s been plenty of discussion about him, and I’m not gong to rehash in depth. I’m doubtful he gets picked, since I’m even more skeptical he could stick. He’s barely caught behind the plate as a pro, and whether the bat could play elsewhere is a pretty big question. The bottom line for me is that a prospect with the exact same profile, tools and history as Pentecost but who was drafted in the 3rd round wouldn’t even be talked about. Note that A.J. Preller in San Diego has a full 40 man - I’d expect that if someone took Pentecost, he’d be the most likely.
Jordan Romano: I’d actually be more worried about losing Romano, as he’s coming off a full season of successful starting in high-A, and his fastball/slider mix would play up even more in relief. He’s at least have a chance at sticking.
Patrick Murphy: This is my dark horse pick. The stat line is underwhelming, but he really figured it out in the middle of the season and has a mid-90s fastball with a hammer curve. I don’t think it’s impossible be could stick in a big league bullpen, and the upside (even as a reliever) is good enough that if I were a rebuilding team I might want to find out.
Jonathan Davis: Anthony Alford’s brother-in-law has seen stock jump recently with a successful run in the AFL. He profiles as a fourth outfielder, and I would be pretty surprised if he were selected, but
Others: The others on the MLB.com’s top 30 are Francisco Rios, Angel Perdomo, and Harold Ramirez. Perdomo is a lefty who throws hard, but missed the last half of 2017. Rios made it to AA, but with mixed results. Ramirez came over from Pittsburgh in the Liriano deal, but as not hit at all recently. Roemon Fields and Jose Fernandez get some chatter, but it’s hard to carry a specialist like Fields in an era of 13 man pitching staffs, and though Fernandez throws hard, his command is not close to MLB ready.
What about the Jays?
They have two open 40-man spots, so they could take up to two players, and given that they’ve taken players in both of the first two years of the Shapiro/Atkins era it would not be surprising. The outfield depth chart is already crowded, so I wouldn’t expect a selection there (same goes for catcher), but perhaps an interesting infielder for the last spot on the bench. The most obvious possibility would be an arm for the bullpen mix, perhaps from the left side.
There's so many names available that it's basically futile to try and guess at names (I had no familiarity with Biagini in 2016, or Glenn Sparkman). The more obvious candidates are covered in the Baseball America and MLB Pipeline links above,but I’m guessing if the Jays take someone it’ll be from off the board.