Sep 16, 2015; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; The family of Pittsburgh Pirates Hall of Famer Clemente (statue), the greatest Rule 5 Draft pick in baseball history, pose outside of PNC Park.
(Photo Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports)
The Philadelphia Phillies have the first selection in the MLB Rule 5 Draft to be held on December 10th during baseball’s Winter Meetings.
The MLB offseason is now in full swing, but with the Phillies in a rebuilding mode, now is not the likely time for them to be involved in big-ticket free agent spending. Phils’ fans shouldn’t expect any edge-of-your-seat-type of excitement when it comes to the “Hot Stove.”
New general manager Matt Klentak made the team’s interest in free agency abundantly clear during his introductory press conference in October, as quoted by Philly.com’s Ryan Lawrence:
“I think as a rule of thumb the free-agent market is not the best place to invest your money . . . that’s the last place we should focus. But I do think there’s a lot of good players in free agency every single year. The different stages of development will dictate that you take a different route in free agency every single year. The route we take this offseason may differ from the one we take next offseason and the one after that.”
However, the club does control the first selection in this year’s Rule 5 Draft, which will take place during the 2015 Baseball Winter Meetings, to be held next week in Nashville, Tennessee.
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A quick primer for those less familiar with the Rule 5 Draft process. Any player who is not on an MLB club’s 40-man roster, and either signed when they were 18 years old and has played in pro ball for five years, or signed when they were 19 years old and has played for four years, is eligible to be selected.
This process was put into place to keep MLB teams from stashing young players indefinitely, never giving them a shot at the big leagues, or delaying such a chance to players who might otherwise be ready but may be blocked at the big league level. There are AAA and AA minor league Rule 5 Draft phases, but we’re sticking here with the Major League process.
If a team selects a player from another team during the Rule 5 Draft, the selecting team must pay the former club a $50,000 fee. The selecting team must then keep that player on their 25-man roster for the entirety of the following MLB season, with the player staying active without any DL stints for at least 90 days.
If the selecting team decides at any point that they no longer wish to keep the drafted player on their 25-man roster, they have a few options.
First, they can return the player to their former team in return for half of the original fee, or $25,000. If the original team no longer wants the player, he can simply be waived at that point.
The Phillies selected ‘The Flyin Hawaiian’ in the 2004 Rule 5 Draft from the LA Dodgers. (Photo credit: Joe Kaczmarek, AP)Second, they can work out compensation, such as a trade or purchase of the contract, and the selecting team would take ownership of the player fully. In that case, the player could then be sent to the minor leagues for further development.
In any case, if a player is taken in the Rule 5 Draft, that player is immediately added to the selecting team’s 40-man roster. Teams are eligible to select if they have openings on that 40-man roster, and do so in reverse order of the previous year’s final regular season standings.
Anyone that the Phillies might select with the top overall pick would go on to their 40-man roster immediately. The player would then go to spring training with the team.
If they make the club, and the Phils want to keep them, the player would have to be kept on the 25-man roster all of the 2016 season, or some deal with his old club worked out.
The most famous Rule 5 Draftee of all-time is Baseball Hall of Famer Roberto Clemente, who was selected by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1954 from the Brooklyn Dodgers organization. Other recent vintage Rule 5 picks who went on to success include Johan Santana, Josh Hamilton, and Dan Uggla.
Last season, the Rule 5 Draft rewarded the Phillies with a player who would become their starting center fielder in Odubel Herrera.
Selected by the Phils after he was left unprotected by the Texas Rangers, Herrera enjoyed a breakout 2015 by leading all Phillies hitters in batting average (.297), On-Base Percentage (.344), and Doubles (30).
Rule 5 Picks, like most MLB draft picks, are far from a sure thing. But the Phillies previously found another outfield gem this way in Shane Victorino back in December of 2004. They also got a useful utility piece in Michael Martinez during the 2011 Rule 5 Draft.
With Herrera’s success last season, the process again displayed its potential value, especially for a rebuilding team looking to add cheap, under-the-radar talent.
Here are three of the available options that the Phillies might be considering as the club management prepares for this year’s Rule 5 Draft.
Next: Phillies 2015 Rule 5 Draft Option #1