Rule 5 Eligibility Rules Tweaked For Shortened Season

Image credit: (Photo by Mark Cunningham/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

For the purposes of the Rule 5 draft, 90 days has turned into 50.

In a normal season, Rule 5 picks must spend at least 90 days on the active roster in addition to never being optioned to the minors. That’s a rule that was put in place long ago to ensure that teams didn’t select promising but unready prospects and then stash them on the injured list all year to avoid having to carry them on the active roster.

This year, the 90 day requirement is a significant problem. Even a Rule 5 pick who spends the entire season on the active roster this year won’t reach the 90 day requirement in a season that will take place over only 66 days. And any player who takes a trip to the IL will fall further below the requirement.

So as an adjustment, this year the requirement has been reduced to 50 days on the active roster. Any player who stays on the active roster all season will meet Rule 5 roster eligibility requirements. At that point, the player becomes a normal member of the club’s 40-man roster who can be optioned to the minors in 2021 and beyond as long as they have remaining options.

Any Rule 5 selection who spends less than 50 days on the active roster this year will carry his Rule 5 eligibility requirements into 2021, which means until he is carried on the active roster for 50 total days, he cannot be optioned to the minors without being offered back to his original team (another team can opt to claim him on waivers and fulfill the Rule 5 requirements).

With the shortened spring training, nine of the 11 picks in the 2019 Rule 5 draft are still on their selecting team’s rosters heading into summer camp.

2019 Rule 5 Selections

  1. Tigers: Rony Garcia, RHP, Yankees
  2. Orioles: Brandon Bailey, RHP, Astros — returned to Astros
  3. Marlins: Sterling Sharp, RHP, Nationals
  4. Royals: Stephen Woods Jr., RHP, Rays
  5. Mariners: Yohan Ramirez, RHP, Astros
  6. Reds: Mark Payton, OF, Athletics
  7. Giants: Dany Jimenez, RHP, Blue Jays
  8. Athletics: Vimael Machin, SS, Cubs
  9. Cubs: Trevor Megill, RHP, Padres
  10. Red Sox: Jonathan Araúz, SS, Astros
  11. Orioles: Michael Rucker, RHP, Cubs — returned to Cubs

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