Creative Teams Can Use Trade Deadline To Answer 40-Man Questions
When the Yankees and Royals agreed on a trade to send Andrew Benintendi to New York, three things were accomplished. The first two are obvious: The Yankees bolstered their big league roster and the Royals replenished their farm system.
The third benefit to the trade was the slight alleviation of a coming 40-man roster crunch for New York. One of the pitchers sent to Kansas City was lefthander T.J. Sikkema, a supplemental first-rounder in 2019 who needs to be protected on the 40-man roster in order to shield him from selection in the upcoming Rule 5 draft.
Currently, the Yankees’ 40-man roster is full. It also contains nine of the team’s Top 30 prospects, including big names like shortstop Oswald Peraza, righthander Luis Medina and outfielder Everson Pereira.
The next wave of prospects who will need protection includes some of the system’s top pitching prospects, like lefthander Ken Waldichuk and righthanders Hayden Wesneski and Jhony Brito—all of whom are at Triple-A—and lower-level talents like Low-A batterymates Juan Carela and Antonio Gomez.
That’s a lot of players for a finite amount of roster. Dealing Sikkema removed one potential decision from the plate of the Yankees’ brass. Over the next few days before the trade deadline and months before the 40-man rosters are set, plenty more choices will need to be made.
That’s why it can be advantageous for teams to include prospects either currently on the 40-man roster or who will soon need a spot on the roster in any deals. It clears space for later while turning prospects who might otherwise be left unprotected into value for the big league roster.
The Yankees turned the same trick last year, too, when they sent infielders Diego Castillo and Hoy Park to Pittsburgh for reliever Clay Holmes. Park and Castillo needed roster spots but were further down the pecking order than other prospects. Instead of losing them in the Rule 5 draft, they turned them into a reliever who is not only under control until 2025, but who also has become one of the league’s most dominant late-inning arms.
Three years ago, near the winter deadline for setting rosters before the Rule 5 draft, the Rays pulled a similar coup when they dealt reliever Cristopher Sanchez to the Phillies to create a spot on their 40-man. In return, Tampa Bay received infielder Curtis Mead, a little-known player at the time who has since hit his way into becoming one of the game’s best prospects.
The team facing the most dire roster crunch this winter is Cleveland, which added a host of talented prospects to its 40-man roster last season in order to protect them from selection in the Rule 5, which was ultimately canceled as a casualty of the lockout.
Because Cleveland’s system is so flush with talented, upper-level prospects, there is a sizable group waiting in the wings, too. Eight more members of the team’s Top 30 need Rule 5 protection this coming offseason, including catcher Bo Naylor, infielders Gabriel Rodriguez and Angel Martinez, emergent outfielder Will Brennan and pitchers Hunter Gaddis, Joey Cantillo, Xzavion Curry and Ethan Hankins.
Overall, that’s 21 total prospects who either currently occupy space on Cleveland’s 40-man roster or will need to be protected this offseason.
Cleveland’s predicament is the starkest example, but there are plenty of clubs facing similar prospect pile-ups that need to be alleviated in the coming months. Keep that in mind when considering teams’ moves in the coming days and then after the season before 40-man rosters have to be set in advance of the Rule 5 draft.
Below is a list of some of the prospects from each of the 30 clubs in need of 40-man roster protection this coming winter.
CHICAGO WHITE SOX
LOS ANGELES ANGELS
LOS ANGELES DODGERS
2022 Arizona Fall League: Mesa Solar Sox
The preliminary roster for the Arizona Fall League's 2022 Mesa Solar Sox, which includes prospects from the Cubs, Yankees, Marlins, A's and Rays.