The Cincinnati Reds currently have 39 players on their 40-man roster. And unless they add a player before Thursday morning, they will at least be eligible to select a player in the Rule 5 Draft. Teams don’t have to select a player, and often enough teams don’t do that.
What makes this Rule 5 Draft a little bit different from all of the ones before, though, is that next season rosters will include 26 active players. The big rule of draftees is that they must remain on the Major League roster during the season. When teams had 25 spots on the roster, a majority of Rule 5 picks would be “hidden” – kept on the roster, but rarely used except in very specific scenarios. They would get incredibly limited playing time. But for this reason, teams would also have problems carrying a player all season. It was just tough to have a player on the team who you simply wouldn’t use in most scenarios. With rosters now being larger, teams may be more willing to select someone in order to acquire talent for their organization. Players will be easier than ever to “hide” on the roster.
There’s the idea that contending teams don’t go for Rule 5 draft picks because of that whole “won’t use them often” thing. But it’s not always true. Some Rule 5 players are more than useful. And of course, just because you select someone doesn’t mean that they have to make the team. If at the end of the spring they aren’t going to make sense, you can choose to put them on waivers.
Baseball America’s got a nice list going of potential Rule 5 options around Major League Baseball. Two pitchers stood out to me a little more than the others, but for different reasons.
The first player was Dauris Valdez. He’s a 6′ 8″ right-handed pitcher who can throw triple-digits. Last season in Double-A Amarillo with the Padres he posted a 4.23 ERA in 55.1 innings with 28 walks and 68 strikeouts. His control isn’t great, but his breaking ball is solid and can flash better. An arm like that is something I’d be interested in seeing what Derek Johnson and Caleb Cotham can work with over six weeks in spring training.
The other player was Anthony Gose. If you look at his season totals, the walk rate is going to jump out at you. He walked 29 batters in 29.0 innings. His career as a pitcher, which started in 2017, hasn’t exactly been one where he’s shown much control. But the last two seasons, in limited action, he also hasn’t allowed many runs. Or hits. Or hard contact. A former big league outfielder, he played in parts of five seasons in the Majors from 2012-2016 with Toronto and Detroit. He’s now a reliever who can throw up to 98 MPH from the left side, albeit with some control concerns. He walked 13 batters in 4.0 innings in a 2-week stretch from mid-June through July 2nd. But after that he walked just five batters in the final 12 appearances of the season in Double-A Akron.
That, however, is only a small part of the reason he could be interesting. As noted, he is a former outfielder. And as an outfielder, he was actually a well regarded defensive center fielder. In two different seasons in the minor leagues he stole 70 bases. He’s got a legit arm, but it’s still raw. With expanded rosters you could use him less as a pitcher, while still getting plenty of work with the pitching coaches, but may also be able to use him to pinch run or play defense late in games – giving him some extra value as the final player on the roster.
Your mileage may vary, and it’s probably going to. But those were the two guys from the current list at Baseball America that stood out as more interesting to me than the others. Go check it out. See if anyone sticks out to you that could be interesting. We’ll take a look at the position player options tomorrow.