In an offseason as slow as Major League Baseball’s, there’s nothing like a transaction deadline.
Friday was the most recent, as it was the date to file reserve lists with the Commissioner’s Office. In true Pittsburgh Pirates’ fashion, the team held off an announcement until almost a half hour after the 6 o’clock deadline.
When the statement was finally made, outfielders Travis Swaggerty, Canaan Smith-Njigba, Jack Suwinski, and infielder Liover Peguero were afforded spots on the 40-man roster, while Michael Perez was designated for assignment to clear the extra spot needed. While the Major League Reserve List is full for now, I want to focus on the Triple-A Reserve List today.
The wording I used above was intentional—reserve lists, plural. Friday was the deadline to file both the Major and Minor League Reserve Lists, and according to the rules, the Triple-A Reserve List can have up to 38 players “through the conclusion of the Major League Rule 5 Draft”. This allows clubs the opportunity, on some level, to protect up to 78 players.
While some of the marquee names were left off the 40-man roster and thus available in the Rule 5 Draft, there’s a reason they simply aren’t plucked in the minor league phase, and this is why. The restrictions on this phase are far less onerous—a mere $24,000 will grant the selecting team the rights to the player’s contract, with no roster restrictions like those that come with the major league phase.
So, with the basics covered as far as the draft goes, who may the Pirates be looking to protect?
The same pool of players that are considered Rule 5 eligible would be the ones being considered—there aren’t different players eligible for both phases. Also, there seems to be some confusion among fans that we are simply to look at the Triple-A roster, but this is not the case. Any player at any level can be added to the Triple-A Reserve List, through the completion of the draft.
Based on my handy-dandy guide, here’s some speculation on who I think could make up the Triple-A Reserve List. I really won’t include much analysis here—leave that to Tim, John, and Wilbur—rather, I just wanted to take the opportunity to explain an oft-disregarded rule and look at some deeper names in the system.
The following assumes a full slate; however, teams rarely use every available slot, as they need openings to select players if they so choose.
First, I’ll start with the obvious names (11):
Yerry De Los Santos
These are the players that some could have argued needed protected on the 40-man roster. So, it would be silly to let these players unprotected, as teams would jump at the chance to select them for nothing.
Next, here are some upper-level depth names that could either see the majors this year, fill out the upper levels, or just have a future in the organization of some kind (21):
Finally, here are some lower-level projects that I would think the team has hopes for long-term, meaning they wouldn’t want to give another team the opportunity to poach and develop them (6):
Of the 64 players that are Rule 5 eligible, this leaves 26 available for selection. While there probably could be some quibbling, the players left over aren’t much more than roster filler or players who may not even be around as spots on the Domestic Reserve List start to fill up.
While the status of the major league phase of the Rule 5 Draft is still up in the air as far as a potential lockout goes, it’s likely the minor league phase would still happen, as these players are not part of the union.
While it’s possible we may get some kind of idea on who was available based on if anyone gets picked, it’s probably one of those things that we’ll never know who was or wasn’t protected. It’s still something that needs to be considered as the offseason moves along, until we meet again at the next deadline.