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Tigers protect six players from Rule 5 draft

The Tigers decided to hang onto just about everyone for the time being.

SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game Photo by Alex Trautwig/MLB Photos via Getty Images

The Detroit Tigers rolled up to today’s deadline to set their 40-man roster with seven open spaces. Three players were consensus locks to be added to the 40-man roster, but there were a lot of maybes. The Tigers elected to use most of the open spaces, adding six players to the roster. That leaves them with one open spot to fill with their first round pick in the Rule 5 draft.

According to Anthony Fenech of The Detroit Free Press, the Tigers have added prospects Isaac Paredes, Daz Cameron, and Beau Burrows to the 40-man roster. They represent the obvious choices. Those three are ranked fifth, eighth, and 14th, respectively, on MLB Pipeline’s ranking of the team’s top 30 prospects.

In addition, the Tigers protected right-handed pitchers Anthony Castro and Kyle Funkhouser, and centerfielder Derek Hill. Castro and Funkhouser each have the stuff to fit in a major league bullpen, but no nearly enough command. It’s hard to say anyone would’ve taken a flier on them, as the move to a 26 man major league roster next season doesn’t change the number of pitchers a team may carry.

Hill, the Tigers first round pick out of high school back in 2014, has taken a long time to finally reach the upper minors. In fact, the Tigers weren’t worried enough about him being claimed last year to bother adding him to the 40-man. Two seasons ago, the Tigers selected an athletic young outfielder who had similarly struggled to unlock his hit tool in Victor Reyes, and they clearly didn’t want to see another cellar dweller stash Hill on their major league roster all season to claim his rights.

In his first full season at the Double-A level in 2019, Hill posted a 108 wRC+ and showcased a bit more power to go with his double plus speed, but he continues to struggle to improve his plate discipline. A litany of injuries early in his pro career, including Tommy John surgery in 2016, set his development clock back a few seasons, and the Tigers will hope that further refinements will unlock Hill’s athleticism.

The moves make sense in that nothing prevents the Tigers from cutting someone from the 40-man as they sign free agents. As those signings occur, the organization can re-evaluate any of these players in that light, and decide whether to keep them or risk them being scooped up by another club. The hope would be that exposing these players after the Rule 5 draft would allow them to slip through the cracks more easily than doing so now. It also allows the Tigers to see how the free agent market shapes up before making those decisions.

In the meantime, the Tigers hold the first pick in the Rule 5 draft set for December 12th. As teams finalize rosters, Bless You Boys will start the process of sifting exposed players looking for options. Hopefully the front office can find a diamond in the rough.