The Rule 5 draft doesn’t take place for another month, at the end of the Winter Meetings. However, the Cincinnati Reds (and every other MLB team) only have until November 18th to set up their 40-man rosters to keep players from being selected by other teams. Let’s take a quick look at what the eligibility requirements are for a player needing to be protected from selection.
- Players who were 18-years-old or younger on June 5th of the year in which they signed (regardless of whether they signed by June 5th) is eligible for the Rule 5 Draft after they’ve passed four of them. An example of this would be that a player that signed in 2012 that was under the age of 19 on June 5th – they are eligible this year for the first time.
- Players who were 19-years-old or older on June 5th of the year in which they signed (regardless of whether they signed by June 5th) is eligible for the Rule 5 Draft after they’ve passed three of them. An example of this would be a player that signed in 2013 that was over the age of 18 on June 5th – they are eligible this year for the first time.
- Players on the 40-man roster are exempt from selection.
The Cincinnati Reds 40-man roster currently sits at 33 players. That means that they can protect seven players without making any further roster moves. The list is a bit long of the players that could be considered for protection. With international players things can get a tad bit tricky in terms of eligibility, but I believe everyone on the list below to be eligible if left unprotected:
|Alejandro Chacin – RHP||Angelo Gumbs – OF|
|Barrett Astin – RHP||Aristides Aquino – OF|
|Caleb Cotham – RHP||Beau Amaral – CF|
|Carlos Gonzalez – RHP||Brandon Dixon – INF|
|Ismael Guillon – LHP||Calten Daal – SS|
|Jackson Stephens – RHP||Chad Wallach – C/1B|
|Jon Moscot – RHP||Eric Jagielo – 3B/1B|
|Jonathon Crawford – RHP||Jesse Winker – OF|
|Keury Mella – RHP||Patrick Kivlehan – OF|
|Nick Routt – LHP||Phillip Ervin – OF|
|Nick Travieso – RHP||Tyler Holt – OF|
|Zack Weiss – RHP|
|Zach Vincej – SS|
Before getting into who I would protect, and who I believe that the Reds will protect, let’s talk briefly about what protecting a player, or selecting a player means. To protect a player simply means to add them to the 40-man roster. That gives them a bump up in salary from the minor league wage scale to $41,400 (pro-rated for the minor league season – they get MLB money if they spend time in the big leagues) for their first year and an additional bump in the following years ($81,200). It also means that you are starting their option clocks if they don’t make the team and are sent to the minor leagues at any point moving forward.
If a team were to select any player, that player must remain on their 25-man roster for the entire season. The player can be placed on the disabled list, but must have 90 days on the active 25-man roster in a season. If they don’t, they must complete that 90 days the following season before they can be sent back to the minor leagues without being offered back to the team in which they were drafted from. That also means that the team is making a serious financial commitment to the player. The league minimum salary is $507,000. With how contracts are set up, even if the player is sent to the minor leagues the next year, they must make at least 60% of what they were paid the year before, which is another $304,000 the next season.
With all of that said and out of the way, let’s talk about who I would protect and why.
Jesse Winker – He’s one of the teams top prospects and close to the Major Leagues. Easy, easy choice.
Aristides Aquino – He’s another one of the teams top prospects. While he’s never played in the upper minor leagues, he’s got the kind of upside that would get him taken rather quickly if left unprotected.
The almost near locks
Nick Travieso – A year ago the right hander was in the Arizona Fall League averaging 95 MPH with his fastball and topping out over 97 MPH. He’s shown some success in Double-A, is a former 1st round pick and would be quite easy to stash in a bullpen. His step backwards in 2016 with his control makes him just slightly lesser than a lock, but the odds are very high that someone would take him if left unprotected.
Phillip Ervin – Another former 1st round pick, Ervin has struggled to hit for an average on his rise through the system. Every other part of his game though has progressed well. He’s got speed, can run the bases well, can play all three outfield spots, has some pop in his bat and has a good idea at the plate. His current skillset already profiles well as a 4th outfielder, so he’d likely be selected quickly if left unprotected.
The probably should be protected
Zack Weiss – 12 months ago I’d have been shocked if you told me that Zack Weiss wouldn’t be on the 40-man roster today. But an injury in spring training wiped out his entire 2016 season and the top relief prospect heading into the year didn’t throw a single pitch in a game during the year. He never had to have surgery, and when he’s healthy, he’s got outstanding stuff and the results at Double-A to back it up. The injury issue leaves open some slight question as to whether or not he’d be taken, but if I were running another team I’d absolutely select him. He’s a protect for me.
Keury Mella – When he was acquired in 2015 he was one of the Giants top prospects and had been performing quite well while pitching in the California League. Since joining the Reds, however, he’s struggled at times with his control and his strikeout rate has dropped off considerably. The pure stuff, however, is still there even if the results have taken a step backwards. He’s got a legit arm, and two pitches that project to the big leagues right now. I believe someone would select him and put him in the bullpen. He’s a protect for me.
Ismael Guillon – The left hander has been on the 40-man roster before, but he was removed before the 2015 season. Things then got worse as he tore a muscle and missed the entire year. He rebounded in a big way during 2016, dominating the Florida State League to the tune of a 2.41 ERA in 93.1 innings to go with 39 walks and 116 strikeouts. The lack of upper minors experience could be a reason teams could be weary of selecting him, but he’s a left hander with two above-average offerings who just dominated the previous season. I believe that someone would take him, and in an organization with very few left handed pitching options, he may be the best of the bunch that’s not already on the 40-man roster. He’s a protect for me.
Update: Yorman Rodriguez has elected free agency. He was originally counted here because of my assumption that when he was outrighted he had the choice to opt for free agency then, but since he was outrighted to Louisville, that he wasn’t. Apparently that was wrong.
The Reds just removed him from the 40-man roster, and he cleared waivers and was outrighted to Triple-A. That means that every team had a chance to claim him, and chose not to, which, at least in theory, means no one felt he was worthy of a 40-man spot, and given his out of options situation, a 25-man roster spot next year. Of course, when he was outrighted the World Series was still happening and Major Leaguers who are going to be free agents were still on rosters, giving teams less flexibility to pick up players. It’s more likely that a player like Rodriguez could be selected in December than picked up in October, even if by a small amount. Much like Phillip Ervin, he profiles as a 4th outfielder right now. He can play all three spots in your outfield, he’s got some speed to work with and he’s got some usable pop in his bat. His 2016 season was lost due to several injuries that only put him on the rehab assignment in Daytona for a few weeks. It’s a tough call as to whether another team would select him, but if I were running another team, I’d absolutely take the chance for $50,000. If he doesn’t stick, send him back. He’s a protect for me, but, I don’t believe that the Reds will protect him.
Barrett Astin – Mostly forgotten about heading into the 2016 season, one of the first players acquired in the rebuilding process, Barrett Astin came over in 2014 when the team moved Jonathan Broxton to the Brewers as a player to be named later. The 24-year-old dominated the Double-A Southern League in 2016 for Pensacola, posting a 2.26 ERA in 103.1 innings split between the bullpen (26 appearances) and the rotation (11 starts). He walked just 25 batters and had 96 strikeouts. He’s currently in the Arizona Fall League where he’s topped out at 97 MPH and has averaged 95. He’s got a good fastball, throws strikes and has the performance in Double-A to back it up. I believe he’d be selected. He’s a protect for me.
For me, that is nine players that I would protect, though I believe the Reds will only protect eight of the players that I named, with Yorman Rodriguez being left out there. That means that the organization would need to clear one more spot. Players who could be on the bubble for that spot, if the Reds do need it, in no particular order are likely Wandy Peralta, Keyvius Sampson, Arismendy Alcantara, Tony Renda and Steve Selsky.
Tomorrow I will have another post with the players that I wouldn’t choose to protect and make a case for why. There are players that I didn’t list here as guys that I would protect, that I do believe have good chances of being selected by other teams, but that discussion will have to wait until tomorrow.