With the Rule 5 draft coming up in less than a month teams must make decisions about who they will add to the 40-man roster in order to protect them from the potential of being selected by another team. While there are still several weeks until the draft, teams only have until November 19th to make their decisions on who to add. One of the players the Cincinnati Reds need to decide on is reliever Alexis Diaz.

The Case for Protection

Things went well for Alexis Diaz in the 2021 season. The Reds sent him to Double-A Chattanooga where he spent his entire season pitching for the Lookouts. In his 35 games in the Double-A South he posted a 3.83 ERA, throwing 42.1 innings on the season. Over that span he allowed just 30 hits, including just two home runs, while walking 20 batters and striking out 70 of the 180 that he faced.

The righty pitched well against both left-handed hitters and right-handed hitters. Lefties hit just .173/.323/.231 against him – having just one extra-base hit, a homer, against him in 52 at-bats where they also struck out 29 times. Righties managed a .206/.289/.294 line against him on the season in 102 at-bats while striking out 40 times.

The now 25-year-old had plenty of performance, and he did so in the upper minor leagues. But it’s not just the performance, Alexis Diaz has legit stuff. His fastball sits in the mid-90’s and he’ll touch the upper 90’s, as well as a slider and change up – both that work in the mid-to-upper 80’s. His fastball and slider both have above-average spin rates, too. The slider profiles as an above-average offering.

It would seem to be a rather easy decision for another team to look at the profile for Alexis Diaz and pick him up in the Rule 5 draft if he were left unprotected. He’s got quality stuff, he’s performed in Double-A, and there doesn’t appear to be any obvious weakness.

The Case for leaving him exposed

If you made it through the case for protecting him then you will understand that it’s probably tough to make a case to leave Alexis Diaz out there, unprotected, available to another team. I’m not even sure that I can make one. So I won’t try.

What will happen?

This feels like an easy protection. The numbers are there. The stuff is there. A team that would select Alexis Diaz wouldn’t need to try and hide him in the bullpen somewhere and hope that the right situation is there for him to be used twice a week. He’s the kind of guy who could come into the big leagues and find a useful role from the beginning.

15 Responses

  1. LDS

    I guess the only question I’d have is: how often does a pitcher who is 25 years old and still in AA, go on to have a successful MLB career? Cincinnati tends to move players up more slowly. I have no idea. But since they appear to still be dumping salary and from all the comments by Krall seem unlikely to invest in FA, use the open slots and protect anyone who vaguely has value in the minors.

    • Gaffer

      The better question is how much would you pay a 25 year old reliever with his stuff on the free agent market?

      Given that this team is trying to save money, easy protect.

    • Doug Gray

      We all need to continue to adjust our thinking with regards to age because guys missed 2020 and it clouds all of that stuff.

      But it’s also worth noting he turned 25 AFTER the season was over. So he was 24 and in AA this year.

    • Jonathan Linn

      luis castillo? how old was he when he jumped from AA to MLB with success?

    • Old Big Ed

      Jacob DeGrom spent his age 24 season at A and A+, and he has had a decent career. He pitched his first game a month shy of his 26th birthday.

      Age is much less important for pitchers, because their aging curves are altogether different than hitters. Plus, Doug is correct about the unicorn effect of the 2020 season.

  2. Doc

    How many 40 man slots do the Reds have available as of this writing, knowing the number is subject to change, and how many players do they have who will be Rule 5 eligible? Those, it seems are crucial questions. The real decision is not a single individual’s upside, rather, it is what is his upside compared to the upside of others if there are more players than there are 40 man spots.

    Projected team needs also play into the analysis. In the case of Diaz, BP is an area of real need for the Reds, which should make protecting him a higher priority than, for example, a third base prospect when the team has a plethora of third basemen, assuming the 3B prospect and Diaz rate about the same in projections.

    Certain outfield spots might also be a need given the uncertainties in CF where it appears the leading two candidates are two players who spend a lot of time on the injury list and neither of whom were available down the stretch when the Reds faded.

    To keep or not to keep cannot be decided in the vacuum of looking only at that player. In the same way that you, Doug, began each article cf the prospect ranking with the same couple of explanatory/disclaimer paragraphs, I suggest starting each of these Rule 5 reviews with a stock paragraph listing how many 40 man spots are open and the names of the players who are rule 5 eligible.

    • Doug Gray

      I think they’ve got 4 open spots right now. They’ll likely have more on December 1st with non-tenders. The teams know who they are non-tendering, but we don’t. That’s why I’m not going to go to far down the road of “how many spots are open”. How many are open today versus how many will be are very likely different numbers and discussing the one we know isn’t too useful.

      A lot of guys are Rule 5 eligible. Anyone drafted before 2018 is eligible. Anyone who has been a free agent already is eligible. Any college player drafted in 2018 is eligible.

  3. RedsGettingBetter

    Well reading this article about Alexis Díaz I understand that he is trailing Dauri Moreta in the group of good relievers the Reds have in the minors… Said this, He should be protected

  4. Colorado Red

    The spots are important as to who to protect. The other questions, is who is not protected by other teams, that have upside.
    The bad teams (like the Reds this year), give you options, as to who to pick.

  5. JaxDan

    Can we expect the Reds to make some moves this week with trades or DFA like Garrett, Bailey and Aquino?

    • Matt

      I think Bailey is safe. Can be put on 60 day IL once the season starts as he finishes TJ recovery. He also has 2 options left, I believe.
      Garrett and Aquino are bigger questions.
      Hoffman is likely nontender candidate.
      Possibly Cionel Perez, although I think he might stick around over AG. From the Reds perspective, he’s cheaper, and looked good towards the end of the year. Personally, I’d keep them both, along with Wilson, to give ample lefty options.

  6. MK

    As far as protecting Alexis, teams selecting in Rule 5 will probably factor in that he has the relief pitching bloodlines of his brother Edwin and hope the can acquire a future facsimile.This is another case where a lost season + of development due to Tommy John makes this decision a little tougher.

    • TR#1

      If he’s not in Doug’s Top 25 prospects, then that does say something. 25 is “old” for a prospect, but not if he has good stuff. If Reds weren’t dumping decent players left and right, then I’d say better use for 40 man spot. But if we throwing darts at a board for bullpen, then why not. If not then trade him to Giants who seem to do just fine with our pitching retreads.

  7. Michael B. Green

    No Spring Training appearances this year could point to CIN not adding him to their 40MR. That move could mean they are trying to sneak him through the window. We’ve lost plenty of guys over the recent years through that approach and thus I think CIN needs to discuss and rely on their advanced scouts and make the call. We all know CIN needs RP help.

    • Doug Gray

      Going to repeat this here, too.

      Spring training was forever and a half ago. A lot of things changed since then. Also – minor league spring training did not run alongside big league spring training this year. It began in April.

      There was a “minor league camp” that ran in February and March. Think of that like big league camp. But with all of the restrictions teams had to limit the total number of players in camp. So in a normal year they would have the 40-man roster, then like 30 non-roster guys, this year they had a 40-man roster, 10-ish non-roster guys, and 20-ish “early minor league camp” guys.

      The actual minor league guys you normally see come over and make appearances a few times throughout the spring…. those guys didn’t exist this year. They were not in Goodyear until the big league crew left because there were restrictions in place on how many people could be at the facilities.