Each December Major League Baseball holds the Rule 5 draft at the end of the Winter Meetings. It was designed to keep Major League teams from hoarding talent in the minors without allowing those players reach the Majors. Players with a certain amount of service time that aren’t on the 40-man roster can be selected by other teams and kept as long as they remain on the selecting teams 25-man roster all season.
What makes someone eligible?
There are a few different things that could make a player eligible for the Rule 5 draft if they are not on the 40-man roster. The first two are very easy. If a player is 18-years-old or younger on June 5th in the year in which they sign, then they will be eligible for the Rule 5 draft for the 5th Rule 5 draft after that. That would mean players who were 18 or younger that signed in 2013 eligible for the first time this year. Players who are older than 18-years-old on June 5th of the year in which they signed are eligible for the 4th Rule 5 draft after that. That would make players that were 19 and signed in 2014 eligible this year for the first time.
Usually this breaks down to high schoolers and college players. High school draftees from 2013 are now eligible for the first time. College draftees from 2013 were first eligible last season, which makes college draftees from 2014 now eligible. But, it’s not always that easy. Two Reds examples would be Narciso Crook and Gavin LaValley. Crook was drafted out of a junior college at 17 in 2013. Unlike other college players drafted that year, because of his age, he is just now becoming eligible. LaValley was drafted in 2014 out of high school, but he was 19.
Where things can get trickier is with free agent signings. Depending on when the player signs depends on whether or not the year in which they sign makes them eligible or not. If a player signs after the minor league season is over, then that year does not count for a “Rule 5 draft” year and thus the player gets the next four or five Rule 5 drafts until they are eligible.
What happens with selected players?
If a player is selected, the selecting team must keep that player on the 25-man roster all season long in order to retain their services. The player can not be sent to the minors other than on a rehab assignment from injury. If the team no longer wants to keep the player on the 25-man roster then they must be offered back to the original team the player was selected from. A player must also have at least 90-days on the active roster in one season. If that number isn’t met due to injury, then the player must complete that 90-day term the following season (cumulative – it does not require 90 days in a given season). After the initial year with the selecting team, a player can then be optioned back-and-forth between the Major and Minor Leagues without being offered back.
To select a player it costs $100,000 to acquire the player. If the player is sent back at any point, and accepted by the team he was selected from, they would then return half of that money to the team that selected the player. Teams can, and sometimes do work out trades if the selecting team would like to keep a player, but decides they can no longer keep them on the 40-man roster.
Which Cincinnati Reds prospects are eligible this year?
The quick idea here is that anyone drafted in 2013 or earlier is eligible. College players, and Gavin LaValley, from the 2014 draft are also eligible. That’s the easy part. The tougher part is figuring out the free agent signings that are eligible. I’ve included all of the eligible players in the list below that were drafted. I have not included international, or free agent signings that have not yet played in full-season baseball on this list. The list below is only for players who are eligible for the first time.
Now, just because someone isn’t first year eligible does not mean that they won’t be taken. There are several players eligible for a second time that have a chance at being selected. Here are a few of the names that jumped out to me as guys who could possibly be selected from this group:
What’s coming up?
In the upcoming weeks I will break things down further. The deadline to protect players this year in November 20th. That is less than six weeks from today. I will break down things by position, sort of. I’m going to group together infielders, outfielders, starters, and relievers. Within each break down we will look at who is likely to be protected from there, and why.