No Rule 5 Draft?

According to Baseball America, the major league portion of the Rule 5 draft has been “canceled.”  The minor league phase will take place as usual.

This makes sense, because players selected in the major league phase have to be added to the 40-man roster, which in turn makes them union members and subject to the lockout.  The interesting part is the draft being canceled rather than postponed.  Both the BA article and the similar one at MLBTR are written as if there will be no major league Rule 5 draft at all this off-season.

Neither article explicitly says that there’s no chance of the draft being rescheduled after a labor agreement is reached.  There probably is at least some chance, as generally speaking all bets are off during a dispute like this until it gets resolved.  If an agreement comes at a late date, like March or after — as I’m guessing it will — MLB could easily decide a last-minute Rule 5 draft is more trouble than it’s worth.

If in fact no draft takes place, it’ll be the rarest of rare birds:  An MLB decision that benefits the Pirates.  Their gamble in leaving prospects like Mason Martin, Tahnaj Thomas and Cal Mitchell unprotected might work out.  It’s even conceivable that they based their decision partly on the possibility that a cancellation might happen.

UPDATE:  The draft has been “postponed indefinitely.”  I guess it became obvious that simply saying “canceled” wasn’t very clear.  So it could still happen.