The Detroit Tigers will have the first overall pick in the 2019 Rule 5 draft for the second time in three years. The draft which will take place on December 12, 2019 in San Diego, California.
Major League Baseball teams must submit their 40-man rosters by November 20 in order to protect players from the Rule 5 draft. The Detroit Tigers currently have 33 players on their 40-man roster following their latest round of cuts and free agent departures. Eight of the Tigers’ top 30 prospects ranked by MLB.com will be eligible if they are not added to the 40-man roster by the deadline.
The Rule 5 draft is conducted on the last day of MLB’s annual Winter Meetings each year pursuant to Major League Rule 5. The players eligible to be selected are minor leaguers who have been with their organizations for four or five years, but are not on the team’s 40-man roster.
Who is eligible for selection in the Rule 5 draft?
Players eligible this year include those who were drafted and signed their first pro contract in 2016, or those who first signed in 2015 but were under the age of 19 at the time. Essentially, this includes players who were drafted out of college in 2016 and international free agents or high school draftees who were signed before the end of the 2015 season. Players who were eligible in previous years are also eligible again, if they’re not on the team’s reserve list.
For example: Kyle Funkhouser was selected in the fourth round of the 2016 draft out of the University of Louisville. Since this will be his fourth Rule 5 draft since signing, he is eligible to be selected this year. Matt Manning was selected in the first round in 2016, but he was taken out of high school and was under age 19 when he signed, so he has another year before he is eligible. Beau Burrows was selected in the 2015 draft out of high school and is eligible for selection this year.
Isaac Paredes was signed as a 16-year-old prospect in July 2015. As this will be his fifth Rule 5 draft since signing, he will be eligible for selection for the first time, and will burn his first option next spring.
Bryan Garcia and John Schreiber are the only two Tigers taken in the 2016 draft who are on the club’s 40 man roster. The Tigers did not select another high school player in 2016 after Manning until the 23rd round, as is common practice for the Tigers.
Derek Hill and Cam Gibson were eligible for selection in last year’s draft but were not selected. They will be eligible again.
How does the Rule 5 draft work?
A club must have space on their 40-man roster on draft day in order to make a selection in the Rule 5 draft. A player can still be non-tendered or waived to create space before the draft. However, players may not be added after November 20 unless they are acquired from another team or signed as a free agent. There is a major league phase, a Triple-A phase, and a Double-A phase to the Rule 5 draft. Players who are signed as international free agents as teenagers are in a race against the clock to make the roster before being Rule 5 eligible.
Players chosen in the Rule 5 draft will have an opportunity to stay with their new club for the 2020 season. The player’s former club will receive a $100,000 fee. Players selected must be kept on their new team’s 25-man MLB roster for the entire season. They cannot be sent to the minors without first clearing waivers and then being offered back to their former club for $50,000.
Detroit chose Reed Garrett with the fifth pick in the 2018 Rule 5 draft. After pitching to a 8.22 ERA in 15 innings, the Tigers had seen enough and he was returned to the Texas Rangers on May 20. Victor Reyes was selected with the first pick in the 2017 Rule 5 draft, and kept him on the major league roster all season. In 2019 he could be — and was — optioned to the minors without clearing waivers and is now a regular member of the major league team.
Players’ Rule 5 rights can be traded, as can players who are selected in the draft. A player is more likely to get through the Rule 5 draft than clearing waivers, so teams will not add players to the roster intending to take them off later.
Who will the Tigers protect?
Here are some Tigers prospects who will be eligible for the Rule 5 draft if they are not added to the 40-man roster by November 20.
Beau Burrows, Isaac Paredes, Kyle Funkhouser, Daz Cameron, Elvin Rodriguez, Anthony Castro, Jake Robson, Derek Hill, Carlos Guzman, Wilkel Hernandez, Cam Gibson.
It’s never a sure thing as to which players a team will focus on, but Burrows, Paredes, and Cameron are the most likely candidates the Tigers will protect.