The 2020 “Winter Meetings” wrap up today with the annual Rule 5 Draft. Once a solid source of talent, changes in the 2006 Collective Agreement that allowed teams an extra year before their prospects were eligible have reduced the chance of finding high impact players. But once in a while, you get a surprise like Elvis Luciano.
Alas, there will be no such surprises this year, as the Blue Jays filled their 40-man roster earlier this week with a pair of waiver claims, and accordingly don’t have any room to make a selection. That not to say there’s nothing for Jays fans, as they’re still subject for having players taken from their system and we’ll have to see if San Francisco takes someone for the third straight year. And there’s always the minor league phase, where the Jays can pick and history suggests they probably will. Who can forget, after all, the Legend of Javier Avendano?
All the action gets underway at 12:00 ET / 9:00 PT followed by the minor league portion, with everything streamed on MLB.com (assuming they can avoid last year’s technical difficulties fiasco) and likely to last under 30 minutes.
If nothing else, it will be intriguing to see how teams approach the rule 5 given both the uncertainty of the last 10 months and the 12 months ahead. Teams have had little opportunity to see and evaluate players in 2020, and 2021 roster sizes are the moving target.
Before proceeding, the annual friendly-and-not-at-all-passive-aggressive reminder: conducted literally in accordance with Major League Rule 5, it’s the Rule 5 Draft, not the Rule V Draft as many refer to it.
Please govern your comments accordingly.
Blue Jays players at risk
After seven years without having a player taken from them, the Jays have lost players for two years running: Jordan Romano and Travis Bergen in 2018 and Dany Jimenez last year. Fortunately, all ended up returning, especially in the case of Romano who moved to the bullpen very sooner after coming back and now appears to be one of the promising relievers in the organization (thank you Rangers for not realizing what you had!)
I covered all the Rule 5 eligible players in the Blue Jays organization last month. MLB Pipeline has a list of all Top 30 prospects that are available. Normally, that would be more of interest in terms of potential candidates for the Jays, but as discussed above that’s moot. For the Jays that’s Kevin Smith (20th, right newly acquired Anthony Castro) and Josh Winchowski (27th).
But the buzz so far doesn’t seem to centre on any Jays prospects (see some names from Jonathan Mayo and Baseball America). Smith is the most likely on the position player side, with Chavez Young or Samad Taylor being extreme longshots. The pitching side is more interesting, since it tends to be relievers who stick and there’s plenty of power type arms who are close and wouldn’t need much to click in Spring Training.
The one name I would draw attention to and not discount is Tim Mayza, who is eligible for any team who could use a lefty with proven MLB stuff and ability. He’ll be at least a year and half post-Tommy John by the time Spring Training starts, and it’s a very small cost to see if the stuff is back.
Where I expect more losses, and perhaps even a wholesale raid, is in the minor league phase. even without any announced minor league signings, I count 63 players eligible. Even with a bunch of org guys in that mix, there’s still about 45 I could consider interesting in some way, and the Jays can only protect a maximum of 38 on their Buffalo roster (and in practice, probably more likely to be 32-35). That may open the door for other teams to gamble $24,000 on some of the under-the-radar guys acquired in the early Shapiro/Atkins years.