clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Texas Rangers Rule 5 draft decisions and the 40 man roster

The deadline for added players to protect them from the Rule 5 draft is Friday, and Texas has some decisions to make

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Texas Rangers have decisions on the 40 man roster and the Rule 5 draft to make this week, as Friday, November 18, is the deadline for teams to add players to the 40 man roster in order to protect them from the Rule 5 draft.

A quick primer...minor leaguers with a certain amount of pro experience are eligible to be selected by another team in the Rule 5 draft if they aren't currently on a 40 man roster.  The Rule 5 draft is in December each year, on the last day of the winter meetings, but the deadline for adding players to the 40 man roster in order to protect them is in mid-November.  Generally speaking, college players who were drafted in 2013 or earlier, and international and high school players who were signed or drafted in 2012 or earlier, are eligible to be picked.  The selecting team must add the player they select to the 40 man roster, and must keep them on the active roster (or the disabled list) for all of the coming season in order to retain the player's rights.  Otherwise, the selecting team must waive the player drafted in the Rule 5 draft, and if he goes unclaimed, must offer him back to the original club.

Rule 5 draftees rarely make much of an impact, although the Rangers were on both sides of this issue in 2015, as they selected Delino DeShields in the Rule 5 draft from Houston, and lost Odubel Herrera to Philadelphia.  Largely, the Rule 5 issue is a trigger to add minor leaguers to the 40 man roster, which starts their option clocks.

The Rangers already made a decision of sorts in this regard a couple of weeks ago, when they added infielder/outfielder Drew Robinson to the 40 man roster.  Robinson had to be added then, rather than waiting until now, because he was a 2010 draft pick who would have become a minor league free agent had the Rangers not added him.

The Rangers' 40 man roster is currently standing at 38, but that's because Ian Desmond is, apparently, still on the 40 man roster until he rejects the Qualifying Offer the Rangers made to him.  Once he does, the roster will drop to 37.  It appears likely the team will add a couple of players from the minor league system to the 40 man roster to protect them.  They may also wish to leave open up a 40 man roster spot, in order to give them the flexibility to draft someone in the Rule 5 draft, should they wish.  Thus, the team probably won't have to drop anyone just yet to clear roster space for adding Rule 5 eligible guys, although they will once they start signing or trading for major leaguers who will be added to the 40 man roster.

You can check out the list of Rule 5 eligibles at Scott Lucas's site, and scanning it, one can pretty clearly figure out that the Rangers aren't likely to add too many players.  The closest to a slam-dunk is Ronald Guzman, the first baseman signed in 2011 who had a breakout year in 2016 for Frisco.  Guzman struggled in AAA after a late season promotion, though, and pretty clearly isn't major league ready with the bat -- and since his bat is the only thing that gives him value, it would be hard to keep him on a 25 man roster for all of 2017, so one could make an argument for leaving him exposed.  I doubt that happens, though -- I suspect the Rangers protect him.

Jairo Beras is also Rule 5 eligible for the first time, but I don't see him being selected.  Beras had a decent season at high-A High Desert, putting up a .262/.306/.511 line, but he's still extraordinarily raw and isn't close to being able to contribute in the majors.  Like Guzman, he has little value outside of his bat, so he's not someone you could stash on the bench as a defensive replacement or pinch runner.  I tend to think he'll be exposed, not just because he won't be selected, but because if you add him now there's a real good chance he ends up running out of options before he's major league ready (if he ever becomes major league ready).

I don't know that there are any other position players who would be under serious consideration for being protected, or who would be likely to be drafted.  You could make a case for Evan Van Hoosier as someone you could draft and look at as a versatile bench guy, and he's hit well in A ball, but a suspension and injuries have caused him to miss a ton of games the past two seasons, and he didn't hit at all in 2016.  Pat Cantwell gets raves for his defense at catcher, but hasn't hit.  Eduard Pinto has hit some, but is undersized and doesn't have a position.  Those are the types of guys who a team might select and take a look at in camp with an eye towards maybe trading for them, but who I don't think are real candidates to be protected.

If anyone besides Guzman is protected, it will likely be a pitcher.  Pedro Payano seems like the most likely candidate, a righthander who was signed in the 2011 J-2 class who has put up a 1.78 ERA in the Sally League the past two seasons.  His season was cut short due to a broken bone suffered on a ball back up the middle, and his lack of experience above low-A ball -- and relatively short track record even there -- could lead the Rangers to leave him exposed, but that risks a team taking a flyer on him and looking at stashing him in the pen as a long man.

Other pitchers who could get a look are Sam Wolff, a hard-throwing righty who missed all of 2015 due to a torn Achilles and who struggled in 2016, but who has a big arm and could get a look as a reliever; Cole Wiper, an above-slot 2012 draft pick whose results haven't matched up with his bonus; and Jose Valdespina, a righty reliever who has shown some promise in the upper minors.  Those are the types of pitchers a team might grab and take a look at in camp, with an eye on potentially seeing if they could contribute in a middle relief role.

Still, those would be upsets.  At this point, I would wager the Rangers protect just Ronald Guzman and Pedro Payano, and I think if anyone else gets drafted out of the Rangers system in the Rule 5 draft, they end up getting sent back rather than sticking with their new team.