As the 2015 baseball winter meetings in Nashville draw to a close, teams will be participating in the annual rule 5 player draft beginning at 10 am ET on Thursday, with a chance to fill some spots on their major league rosters. In order to make a selection in the draft, a team must have an open spot on their major league roster, and the Detroit Tigers currently have no spots open, so they are ineligible to make a selection in the major league phase of the draft unless they make arrangements to trade for a player who is selected by another team.
A player cannot be sent outright to the minors on the two days prior to the Rule 5 Draft and on the day of the Rule 5 Draft until after the draft, so if the Tigers are to acquire a rule 5 selection this year, they will need to trade to get the player they desire. While a draft pick may not be traded, a player selected in the Major League Phase of the Rule 5 Draft can be traded at any time, but the player cannot be released or sent to the minors any earlier than 20 days prior to MLB Opening Day, and then only if the player clears waivers and his former club declines to re-claim the player.
A team can arrange for another club to draft the player and then trade him. This is how the Tigers acquired Kyle Lobstein. The New York Mets drafted him from the Tampa organization, then sold his rights to Detroit. In the same year, the Boston Red Sox drafted Jeff Kobernus from the Washington organization, then traded his rights to Detroit for minor leaguer Justin Henry. The Tigers could not reach agreement with the Nationals when they wanted to send him to the minors, so he was returned.
Any player drafted must remain on the major league roster for the duration of the season, so we're not just looking for prospects in this event.
Any player who signed at 18 or younger and has five seasons of professional experience, plus any who signed at 19 or older and has four seasons in pro ball, is eligible for the Rule 5 Draft unless he's listed on his organization's 40-man roster. The Tigers have left Jonathan Turley, the left handed starting pitcher at Erie, unprotected, among others this year.
2014 was something of a banner year for the rule 5 draft, as ten of the 14 players selected remained with the clubs that drafted them, including Oakland's Mark Canha, the Mets' Sean Gilmartin, and the Rangers' Delino DeShields. Former rule 5 picks of note include Roberto Clemente, Johan Santana, Jose Bautista, Darren O'Day, and Josh Hamilton. The Tigers acquired Kyle Lobstein via trade through the rule 5 draft, as well as Chris Shelton, and Wilfredo Ledezma.
Baseball America has a preview of some of the players available in this year's rule 5 draft. Not all of them will be selected, but here are three abbreviated profiles of outfielders who may interest the Tigers:
Jabari Blash, of, Mariners (26): Blash was left unprotected and unpicked last year, but the Mariners are taking a risk by leaving the toolsy outfielder available this year. Blash hit .271/.370/.576 with 32 home runs between Double-A and Triple-A this year. Blash doesn’t run as well as he did a few years ago, but he has prototypical right field tools and now he has upper-level minor league production as well.
Jake Cave, of, Yankees (23): Cave is more of a well-rounded outfielder than toolsy, but he’s a left handed hitting center fielder who could entice a team looking for an inexpensive fourth outfielder. He runs well and has gap power but has lacked the selectivity to produce enough to get protected.
Tyler Goeddel, of, Rays (23): Goeddel’s bat seemed to take off somewhat this year after he moved from third base to the outfield. He’s an athletic, if a little slight-framed right handed hitter with a smooth swing who is above-average in the corners and playable in center field. Coming off a .279/.350/.433 season at Double-A, Goeddel is one of the more polished hitters available in this year’s Rule 5 draft.
The cost for selecting a player in the major league phase of the draft is $ 50,000. If he is returned to his former club, the fee is $ 25,000 paid to the returning team. In most cases, a team is able to work out compensation with the former club, enabling them to option the player to the minor leagues, rather than having to put him through waivers and then return him.