The MLB deadline for the Rule 5 draft is today — major league teams must add any players they wish to protect from the Rule 5 draft to their 40 man roster by 5 p.m. this afternoon. Any player who is on a minor league contract, is Rule 5 eligible, and is not on a 40 man roster by then is eligible to be selected in the Rule 5 draft, which will occur next month on the last day of the Winter Meetings.
To run down how the Rule 5 draft works — any player who signed at age 18 or younger and has played in professional baseball for at least five years, or who signed at age 19 or older and has played in professional baseball for at least four years, is eligible to be selected in the Rule 5 draft if they are not on a 40 man roster. A player who is selected in the Rule 5 draft is added to the selecting team’s 40 man roster.
To keep a player who is selected in the Rule 5 draft, the selecting team must pay $100,000 from the team where he was selected keep the player on the major league roster for the entire season — that is, either the 25 man active roster or the major league disabled list. A player must also spend at least 90 days on the active roster, or else his Rule 5 status carries over into the following season, until he’s spent 90 days on the active roster. To give an example, should a team select, say, Joe Palumbo (who is recovering from Tommy John surgery) from the Rangers in the Rule 5 draft, they couldn’t just stash him on the 60 day d.l. the entire season and then send him down to start 2019. Rather, they would have to activate him at some point, and keep him on the active roster for 90 days before he could be optioned.
Should a team decide they no longer want to keep their Rule 5 selection on their active roster, they must waive the player, and if he clears waivers, offer him back to his original team for $50,000 -- half the price they paid to select the player. The player is then off the 40 man roster and can be outrighted to the minors.
The Rangers, under Jon Daniels, have been active in the Rule 5 draft, either with selecting players themselves or acquiring Rule 5 players via trades or waiver claims. Delino DeShields, of course, was a very successful Rule 5 pick in the 2014-15 offseason, and Darren O’Day was a Rule 5 selection of the Mets who was claimed on waivers by the Rangers in April, 2009, when the Mets were waiving him in order to offer him back to his original club, the Angels. The Rangers have also had some less successful Rule 5 players under Jon Daniels, such as Mason Tobin, Fabio Castro, Michael Hauschild, Seth Rosin, and Logan Verrett.
I wrote up the Rangers’ 40 man roster situation earlier this month, and identified potential Rule 5 eligibles we could see the Rangers add to the 40 man roster today. There are five players that I would say I’m relatively confident the Rangers will add -- catcher Jose Trevino, catcher/infielder/outfielder Isiah Kiner-Falefa, left handed pitchers Brett Martin and Joe Palumbo, and righthanded pitcher Ariel Jurado — though other than Trevino and maybe Jurado, I wouldn’t be shocked if any of those players ended up not making the cut. In addition, there are several players who are on the bubble, as I detail in the link above. If I were to make a prediction, I would say the Rangers will add the five players listed above and righthanded reliever Sam Wolff.
The other thing to keep in mind today is that there are teams who need to clear out roster spots to add players to the 40 man roster, and so you could see some trades of some fringe 40 man players. The Rangers have a relatively open 40 man roster, and have been rumored to have been talking to the Yankees about some of their potential 40 man casualties, so keep your eyes open for a minor Texas trade today.