MLB Draft Rule 5: What is it? When is it? Why is it important?
On December 7, the Baseball Annual Winter Meetings will conclude with Draft Rule 5. The draft is back after a one-year hiatus due to the shutdown. It’s a much talked about event among baseball circles every winter, but is often poorly understood. so what he is Draft Rule 5? Why does it exist? And what is its impact on the history of baseball? Let’s dive in.
What is an MLB Rule 5 draft?
Draft Rule 5 has existed in a variety of forms since the 1890s, but in all of its iterations, the intent behind the draft was to ensure that organizations did not take over MLB-ready talent in minor leagues as unlisted players indefinitely. There are two parts to Draft Rule 5 – a major periodic portion and a minor periodic portion. Players selected in the Major League segment must remain on the active Main League roster for their new team for one season or be returned to their home organization for a fee. Players selected in the minor league portion join their new organizations without roster restrictions.
A lot goes into deciding which players to protect and which ones to leave eligible. Teams have to weigh the risks of losing a prospect they may not feel ready to help them at the Major League level while wanting to keep a roster of 40 players available for the players they need for next season. Hundreds of players are eligible each year, but most will not be selected and will remain in their current institutions as unlisted players. In the 2020 Rule 5 draft, only 16 players were selected for the Major League segment.
(Note: There was a draft of the Fifth Rule for the Minor League last December. 51 players were selected in that draft.)
Who is Eligible for Draft Rule 5?
First-time players are eligible if they 1) are not on their team’s 40-player roster and 2) face their 4th Base 5 Draft if they were either 19 or older in the year they signed their first professional contract, or ran in their 5th Base 5 Draft if they reached Age 18 or younger in the year they signed their first professional contract. (CliffsNotes Edition: Players age 19 or older who signed in 2019 or earlier, or players age 18 or younger who signed in 2018 or earlier, are eligible to participate in this year’s draft.)
All players not on the list with the above eligibility are available in the Major League portion of the draft. Those eligible players not hiding in the team’s out-of-season Triple A roster are eligible for the minor league segment.
What is the deadline for protecting players from Draft Rule 5?
Teams must add draft Rule 5 eligible leads to their rosters of 40 players by November 15 to keep them out of the Rule 5 draft pool.
When is Draft Rule 5 due?
Draft Rule 5 will take place in San Diego at the Winter Meetings on Wednesday, December 7th. This is the last event of the Winter Meetings. Each team with open points in their list of 40 players will have the opportunity to choose a player, although once they pass the selection (or have a full list of 40 players), they can no longer choose. The draft continues until all teams have been selected to pass selections or have had full 40-man rosters. Draft order is the same as the next amateur draft for Rule 4.
Is there a fee to select a player in Draft Rule 5?
Yes, and like everything else, the cost is rising.
Before a new collective bargaining agreement takes effect in February, teams that select a player in the Major League portion of Draft Rule 5 must pay $50,000 to the team they were selecting the player from. If the new team decides not to keep the base 5 selection on their active list, they will first have to put the player into concessions, and if the player cancels the concessions, offer the player to their old team for $25,000. Under the new CBA, the selection fee is now $100,000 and the player will be offered again for $50,000.
Can base 5 choices be traded?
Yes, and two of the most popular base 5 picks have been traded by the team that picked them – Johan Santana and Josh Hamilton. Santana was selected from the Astros system by the Marlins in 1999, but was immediately traded to the Twins. Hamilton was selected by Cubs in the 2006 draft of the Rays series, but was immediately traded to the Rangers. Teams that get a Rule 5 selection through trade adhere to the same list restrictions as if they made the selection themselves.
Can teams hide base 5 footage on the casualty list?
Somewhat. Teams sometimes target players who have come out of serious surgeries in the Rule 5 draft because they can keep those players on the Major Leagues injury roster for 60 days. However, unless a player spends at least 90 days on the active roster during a base 5 season, they will be bound by the same roster restrictions the following year.
Were good players found in Draft Rule 5?
yes! It’s not unusual for teams to find stars in a base 5 draft (the most common target for choosing a base 5 is a strong dump or a player with good defensive skills), but it did. The Santana and Hamilton mentioned above are two examples.
George Bell joined the Blue Jays in 1980 through the base 5 draft. Shane Victorino was a base 5 pick for two years in a row. He failed to stick with Padres in 2003, but succeeded with the Phillies in 2004, and ended up spending eight seasons in Philadelphia. Joachim Soria began a 14-year career in the Major League as a base 5 pick from the Royal Family in the 2006 draft. Dan Ugla (2005) and Graeme Lloyd (1992) are the other two who launched a long career in the Major League as chosen by base 5.
The most famous Rule 5 pick is Roberto Clemente, who was selected from the Dodgers organization by the Pirates in 1954. Earlier, Cubs earned Hack Wilson of the New York Giants in the era’s Rule 5 draft.
Most recently, Marwin Gonzalez (2011), Hector Rondon (2012), Mark Cana (2014), Odebel Herrera (2014), Brad Keeler (2017), Akil Badu (2020), Garrett Whitlock (2020) and Trevor Stefan (2020) It made a huge impact with the teams that got it through the Rule 5 draft.
The minor league portion of the Base 5 draft also made some gems, including Tyler Gilbert, the left-hander who was picked by the Diamondbacks in 2020. Gilbert made his major league debut in 2021 and delivered a smash hit in his first major league start. The Astros carried Seth Martinez, a minor base 5 pick in 2020, to the playoff roster for every round except for the World Championships this fall. He had a 2.09 ERA in the 38 2/3 innings of the regular season for Houston in 2022. Zach Jackson picked the A’s in the same draft base 5 in the minor league. He made his major league debut in 2022 and has a 2.78 FIP and 67 hits in 48 innings. Russell Wilson was previously a base 5 pick of a minor league, going from the Rockies to The Rangers.
(2013 Draft 5 rule file photo: Phelan M. Ebenhak/The Associated Press)
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