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Q: Which Rule 5 picks have stuck?
The Padres are entering almost-uncharted territory.
San Diego is beginning the season with three Rule 5 picks on its roster, including a catcher with just 49 games of full season minor league experience and a shortstop with zero games in the full minors.
Three times in the past decade, only three Rule 5 picks stuck from the entire Rule 5 class. The only team this century to carry three Rule 5 picks on its roster all season was the 2003 Tigers, which kept Wil Ledezma, Matt Roney and Chris Spurling on the big league roster all season. That Detroit team went 43-119, posting the worst record since the 1962 New York Mets.
The Padres’ Rule 5 approach of the past two seasons is actually very similar to what the Tigers did in 2003 and 2004 when they went all in on the Rule 5 draft. Detroit carried three Rule 5 picks for the entire 2003 season, then drafted three more major league Rule 5 picks in 2004 (only Chris Shelton stuck).
The Padres took four Rule 5 picks in 2015, although only righthander Luis Perdomo remained on the big league roster all season. San Diego made a deal to keep Jabari Blash in the minors and sent Josh Martin and Blake Smith back to their original teams.
The three Rule 5 picks helped lead to an unusual Padres’ Opening Day roster. The Padres have four catchers on their Opening Day roster, when most teams carry two. They made that decision to carry catcher/outfielder/reliever Christian Bethancourt and Rule 5 pick Luis Torrens, a pick from the Yankees. Allen Cordoba, a Rule 5 pick from the Cardinals, will serve as a backup infielder.
Spring training stats are a combination of small sample size and a widely varying caliber of competition, but Cordoba in spring training looked like a player in over his head—he hit .179/.247/.195. Torrens posted a .167/.286/.222 line this spring. Both have plenty of potential, but neither looks ready to do anything more than be stashed as deep bench options. Diaz (picked from the Brewers), the top pick in the Rule 5 draft, looks a little more ready as a reliever.
All together 12 of the 18 major league Rule 5 picks have made Opening Day rosters, although five of them are on the disabled list. Rule 5 picks must be kept on the active MLB roster (with the exception of trips to the disabled list or the suspended list) for the entire season. October is a long way away, but if the 12 players who are still with their new teams stick, it would be the most MLB Rule 5 picks to stick in a Rule 5 draft this century, topping 2014 which had 10 and could end up with 11.
That’s unlikely to happen. Last year, 10 Rule 5 picks survived to make Opening Day rosters. But just five lasted the full season.
When it comes to a Rule 5 pick sticking, an injury can be a useful problem. Players can’t be optioned to the minors during their Rule 5 season without being placed on waivers. But teams only have to carry a player on the active roster for 90 days.
|A look at how many Rule 5 picks have remained with their new teams through the entire season. The eligibility rules for the Rule 5 draft changed in 2006, making comparisons to years before that problematic.|
Here’s how all 18 2016 MLB Rule 5 picks currently stand.
On Active Roster
Miguel Diaz, rhp, Padres: Will pitch in Padres’ bullpen
Luis Torrens, c, Padres: Will serve as Padres’ third catcher
Allen Cordoba, ss, Padres: Will serve as Padres’ second utility infielder
Justin Haley, rhp, Twins: Will pitch in Twins bullpen
Dylan Covey, rhp, White Sox: Will pitch in White Sox bullpen, but could spot start
Mike Hauschild, rhp, Rangers: Will pitch in Rangers bullpen
Stuart Turner, c, Reds: Will serve as Reds’ backup catcher
Kevin Gadea, rhp, Rays: Placed on 60-day disabled list with elbow tendinitis.
Armando Rivero, rhp, Braves: Has not thrown a pitch during spring training because of shoulder injury, headed to DL.
Josh Rutledge, inf, Red Sox: Looked to have team made, but now on 10-day DL with a hamstring injury.
Anthony Santander, 1b, Orioles: Served as DH in spring training but headed to disabled list as he continues to recover from offseason shoulder surgery.
Glenn Sparkman, rhp, Blue Jays: Expected to go on the disabled list with a fractured thumb he sustained in early March.
Tyler Jones, lhp, Diamondbacks: Sent back to Yankees
Caleb Smith, lhp, Cubs: Sent back to Yankees
Tyler Webb, lhp, Pirates: Sent back to Yankees
Daniel Stumpf, lhp, Tigers: Waived, opted for free agency as a two-time Rule 5 pick, re-signed with Tigers on major league contract and optioned to Triple-A Toledo.
Hoby Milner, lhp, Indians: Sent back to Phillies.
Aneury Tavarez, of, Orioles: Currently on waivers.
You might have noted above that the final number of successful Rule 5 picks from the 2014 class hasn’t been finalized. That’s because—amazingly—Braves righthander Daniel Winkler still remains under Rule 5 roster restrictions.
The Braves placed Daniel Winkler on the 60-day disabled list in early March as he continues to recover from the elbow he fractured last year.
Winkler, the minor’s strikeout leader in 2014, was picked by the Braves in the 2014 Rule 5 draft, with the knowledge at the time that he would miss almost the entire 2015 season recovering from Tommy John surgery. Atlanta was able to get him back on the field after rosters expanded in September. He threw only one inning, but spent 26 days on the active roster. Winkler made the Braves’ Opening Day roster last season and was expected to play a useful role in the bullpen. But he fractured his right elbow and went back on the disabled list on April 11, after just 10 days on the active roster.
Winkler has yet to pitch this year and is currently on the 60-day disabled list. By my admittedly unofficial count, he will need 54 more days on the active roster to become a Braves player free and clear of Rule 5 restrictions. Thirty-one of those days can come after rosters expand to 40 on Sept. 1, so assuming Winkler’s injury sidelines him for quite a while longer, he’d need to be activated by Aug. 9 to get his 54 days.