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At last, a quick explanation of the Rule 5 draft — July 31, 2017

At last, a quick explanation of the Rule 5 draft

By Alan Schwarz

Note: This story ran in Baseball America in 1995, and has been dusted off and updated where applicable.

You’ve seen it written and referred to a zillion ways: the Rule 5 draft, the minor league draft, the rule V drafts, that draft at the Winter Meetings that’s a little too complicated so I’ll wait to see if it matters later . . .

It’s actually not that involved, so as a public service we now present to you an observer’s guide to what Baseball America typically refers to as the major league Rule 5 draft.

The process doesn’t shake baseball’s rafters, but it does add a wrinkle to the player-development game that’s worth understanding. Every once in a while, a player makes a significant impact after being chosen, Pittsburgh’s Roberto Clemente in 1954 being the classic example.

The Rule 5 draft has been a staple of the Winter Meetings almost from its beginning and sprung up as a method to prevent teams from stockpiling talent in their minor league systems. Players not on major league rosters would otherwise have little or no chance to find an opportunity to play elsewhere, though that restriction was further eased in the 1980s when minor leaguers got the right to become free agents after six full seasons.

Major league teams must protect players on their 40-man rosters within three or four years of their original signing. Those left unprotected are available to other teams as Rule 5 picks.

Players who were 18 or younger on June 5 preceding the signing of their first contract must be protected after four minor league seasons. Players 19 and older must be protected after three seasons.

But here’s the kicker: To prevent teams from drafting players willy-nilly, each Rule 5 pick must be kept in the major leagues the entire following season or be offered back to his former team for half of the $50,000 selection price. Few players are ready for such a jump, so only about 10-15 get picked each year. Fewer still last the whole season in the big leagues.

“They have to keep a guy for the whole year, so a lot of teams are safe,” says Paul Snyder, the Braves’ director of scouting and player development. “But there have been kids drafted out of A-ball.

“A few years ago (in 1984) Toronto got two guys (Lou Thornton and Manny Lee) who could pinch-run and play defense. They’re easier to carry in the American League because there aren’t as many pitching changes.”

Other miscellaneous Rule 5 rules and tidbits:

  • The “Rule 5” moniker comes from its place in the Professional Baseball Agreement. The June draft, for instance, is Rule 4.
  • Teams must file their 40-man rosters by Nov. 20, and only those not at the full allotment of 40 may select players.
  • Teams select in reverse order of that season’s finish, with the American and National leagues alternating the No. 1 pick from year to year. The Twins have the first pick this year, followed by the Marlins (who can’t pick as their roster stands at 40).
  • Since 1950, selections have included a low of three players in 1974 and a high of 24 in 1994. The selection price was increased in 1985 to $50,000 from $25,000.
  • There are Triple-A and Double-A segments of the Rule 5 draft, with price tags of $12,000 and $4,000 respectively. Minor league players not protected on the reserve lists at the Double-A and Class A levels are subject to selection, but almost no future big leaguers emerge from this process. It’s basically a tool for major league teams to fill out affiliates rather than obtain talent.
  • In 1988, the Braves drafted a player from themselves. They neglected to protect righthander Ben Rivera on the 40-man roster, had the first pick in the draft and took him.
  • Players from the 1998 Rule 5 draft to stick all year include Pirates lefthander Scott Sauerbeck, Blue Jays catcher Alberto Castillo (acquired this month in a trade from the Cardinals) and Astros outfielder Glen Barker.
7 immediate Yankees concerns as MLB trade deadline looms —

7 immediate Yankees concerns as MLB trade deadline looms

By Brendan Kuty

Heyman | Price for Yankees to acquire A’s Gray could be dropping — July 29, 2017

Heyman | Price for Yankees to acquire A’s Gray could be dropping

By Jon Heyman

s gray

The Oakland A’s and New York Yankees have continued to talk about star pitcher Sonny Gray, and Oakland has come off of Clint Frazier and Gleyber Torres, enhancing the chances the two teams could make a deal.

The Yankees, a first-place, big-market team with an excellent prospect list, seem to be in a decent position to land the pitcher they most covet — though it isn’t known how aggressive the other interested teams are.

Several teams have called on Gray, with the Dodgers and Astros among contending teams with the prospects to get it done. However, it’s possible the Dodgers may have Yu Darvish, whose chances to be traded are increasing, as high or higher on their list, and the Astros (and for that matter the Dodgers), also have their sights set on star closer Zach Britton. It was first reported here that L.A. eyed Britton, but the Dodgers’ interest may have shifted a bit with new concern for ace starter Clayton Kershaw.

It’s pretty clear Gray heads the Yankees’ preferred list, but New York has looked into several other rentals in case it doesn’t pan out with Oakland. They’ve talked about Darvish, Lance Lynn, Jaime Garcia and Dan Straily, as well.

Well beyond Torres and Frazier, the Yankees have coveted prospects Justus Sheffield, James Kaprielian, Jorge Mateo, Estevan Florial and many others. So there could still be a deal to be made.

Gray’s value is enhanced by a reasonable (sub-$4M) salary and two years to go before free agency, which means the A’s aren’t pressured to trade him now, either. Jerry Crasnick first reported the A’s had lowered their price after it was reported here that the A’s originally sought Torre or Frazier.

Yankees prospect in Sonny Gray trade talks gets Adam Jones comp — July 28, 2017

Yankees prospect in Sonny Gray trade talks gets Adam Jones comp


World Team right fielder Estevan Florial (R) and World Team center fielder Ronal Acuna (L) nearly collide while reaching up for a pop-up against the US Team during the All-Star Futures Game at Marlins Park in Miami, Fla. on July 9, 2017.

By Brendan Kuty

The prospect the Yankees are considering dealing to the A’s for starting pitcher Sonny Gray reminds his manager of one of the best center fielders of the last decade.

Estevan Florial, 19, is “similar to Adam Jones,” Low-A Charleston manager Pat Osborn said in a phone interview Friday afternoon. “But Flo has got a chance to be a better defender and run better.”

Oakland has sent scouts recently to see Yankees prospects at Double-A Trenton and Charleston. The A’s are targeting center field help, according to FanRag’s Jon Heyman.

That would mean they’ve gotten an eyeful of Florial, whose been one of the South Atlantic League’s brightest youngsters.

In 88 games, Florial has hit .301 with 11 home runs, 41 RBI and 17 stolen bases. He’s also whiffed a lot (120 strikeouts in 332 at-bats).

The Yankees rewarded Florial for his work with a trip to the All-Star Futures Game in Miami alongside Double-A righty starting pitcher Domingo Acevedo.

“If you watch Flo play, the tools — the raw power — just jump out at you right away,” Osborn said. “He can fly. He’s got a chance to be a premium defender in center field with a well-above-average throwing arm. He’s got tremendous raw power and the hit tool has really started to come on.

“If you watch him, it’s a no-brainer. But if you have the pleasure of being around him for an extended time like I have, you get to see he’s an A+ person.”

Florial has continued to produce, despite knowing his name has been blasting trade rumors for weeks. In his last five games, he’s got 10 hits, including three doubles, in 17 at-bats (.588 BA) with two walks.

Osborn talked with Florial about all the noise surrounding him. Osborn’s message: Just worry about what you can control.

“That’s showing up at the ballpark everyday, preparing yourself and playing a game,” the manager said. “Just get your work in. Put yourself in the best position to succeed every night. Try not to listen to all the rumors, all the stuff that’s out there.

“I told him, ‘It’s a compliment that your name is going to be out there. You’re such a great player. Be where your feet are.'”

Even if Florial’s feet are running for another team soon.

“I think the world of the kid and, for me, he’s just a tremendous person that’s been blessed with a ton of baseball ability,” Osborn said.

Athletics stuck on Frazier or Torres from Yankees for Gray —

Athletics stuck on Frazier or Torres from Yankees for Gray

By Jon Heyman


The Oakland Athletics and New York Yankees aren’t believed close to any deal yet in talks about Sonny Gray, as Oakland is said to have asked for packages that include either outfielder Clint Frazier or shortstop Gleyber Torres, two young players the Yankees have suggested are off-limits.

The A’s, in a deep sellers’ market, have named the very top prospects in talks to this point. From the Brewers, they are believed to like outfielder Lewis Brinson, and from the Braves outfield Ronald Acuna. The Brewers are said to have “backed off” in recent days, while the Braves are thought to be behind in the running.

Some teams are suggesting this will go to the wire since the prices are steep. And one rival executive went so far as to say, “the A’s have been steep in their asks so they may keep him.”

Perhaps more likely, they are just waiting for someone to bend. Gray is the most attractive pitcher on the market, as a young, affordable guy with a big upside who is currently hot. There’s a decent chance Yu Darvish will be traded, and while he has a greater pedigree, he’s a rental. The other pitchers on the market don’t stack up to Gray.

The A’s are believed especially focused on acquiring a center fielder of the future, and they’ve named the Yankees’ CF prospect Estevan Florial in packages, as well. To this point they are insisting on Frazier or Torres, but they’ve shown interest in some other Yankees prospects, including pitcher James Kaprielian, infielder/outfielder Jorge Mateo and others. The Yankees have seemed reluctant to include their top four or five guys, and they count Florial among that great.

The Yankees also like Darvish, and would consider Lance Lynn if he’s dealt, as well as perhaps some others. But most of the talk so far has revolved around Gray.

The Yankees got Torres in a four-man package for star reliever Aroldis Chapman, a rental at the time last year, in a situation where the Cubs were going for it (and got it, winning the first World Series title since 1908). Frazier came with top pitching prospect Justus Sheffield in a trade for top reliever Andrew Miller.

The Dodgers and Astros are seen as potentially serious players for Gray, and the Mariners, Royals and others have checked in on the A’s young star.

Yankees’ CC Sabathia — hesitantly — calls Luis Severino an ace — July 27, 2017

Yankees’ CC Sabathia — hesitantly — calls Luis Severino an ace

luis severino.

New York Yankees starting pitcher Luis Severino (40) walks back to the dugout against the Cincinnati Reds during the first inning at Yankee Stadium.

By Brendan Kuty

NEW YORK — CC Sabathia knows an ace when he sees one. Sabathia was the unquestioned frontman of rotations in Cleveland, Milwaukee an the Bronx for most of his storied career, until injuries and inconsistency forced him toward the back.

Luis Severino? He’s the Yankees‘ ace, Sabathia agreed, but it took him a quick second to get there.

“That’s up to Joe,” Sabathia said. “That term is thrown around so loosely these days. But, yeah, for what that term is, he is.”

Sabathia was talking about manager Joe Girardi, who said the 23-year-old Severino had been pitching like the Yankees’ ace before he provided more fodder to that argument with seven sterling innings in a 9-5 win over the Reds at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday.

Severino didn’t give up an earned run, striking out nine and walking two.

The right-hander made his first All-Star appearance this year. He’s 7-3 with a 3.30 ERA, outpitching expected ace Masahiro Tanaka (7-9, 5.37 ERA) and Sabathia (9-3, 3.44 ERA), though the 36-year-old left-hander is experiencing a late-career renaissance.

“He’s got the stuff,” Sabathia said. “His stuff is very electric. Like I said earlier, his changeup has been a big key for him this year. Throwing that into the mix, he throws 100 mph the whole game with a nasty slider and he throws that changeup in there, it makes a big difference.”

Before the game, Girardi was effusive in his praise of Severino, a former top prospect who struggled to even win a rotation spot out of spring training after a disastrous 2016 that saw him bounce between the majors and Triple-A.

“”He’s thrown the best all year for us,” Girardi said. “You can call him what you want. Some people call him that but that’s the expectations people have for him are pretty high.”

He added, “”To me, that’s the next step. So far, he’s handled it extremely well. The way he’s come out pitching around the break, he’s beaten (Red Sox ace Chris) Sale and King Felix (Hernandez, of the Mariners) and he’s competed at a very high level.”

Severino said he still has a lot to prove before he feel comfortable with the moniker.

“Like I always say, there are a lot of guys here that I know way better. CC got a lot of years here. Tanaka have all year last year,” Severino said. “So I got to keep doing this for 5 or 6 years and we’ll see what happens. But right now we got a lot of guys.”

Olney: Trade Sonny Gray to Yankees, as time is right for big markets to get their ace — July 26, 2017

Olney: Trade Sonny Gray to Yankees, as time is right for big markets to get their ace

sonny gray

The Yankees need starting pitching for 2018, and Sonny Gray could fill that void. 

By Buster Olney

The Chicago Cubs are doing what they can to pursue another championship, including trading for Jose Quintana a couple of weeks ago. But they could never replicate the level of desperation that the organization operated with in the summer of 2016, amassed over 108 consecutive years they had failed to win the title. That urgency drove the Cubs’ front office into a transaction it probably wouldn’t consider under normal circumstances.

On the day the Cubs traded high-end prospect Gleyber Torres to the Yankees forAroldis Chapman, Chicago was 20 games over .500. They didn’t need Chapman to reach the postseason again; rather, the club’s executives felt the team needed Chapman as a finishing piece to take the World Series. That was the context in which the Cubs operated then, and because they won Game 7 over the Cleveland Indians last year, their context is very different now.

At this time of year, context is everything as teams make decisions about what to do leading up to the trade deadline, and the context should steer three big-market teams in pursuit of the three best starting pitchers in the market.

Why the Los Angeles Dodgers should pay the price for Yu Darvish

The Dodgers stand where the Cubs did a year ago: With the best record in the National League and an enormous lead in the West, they are all but assured of making the postseason again. The Dodgers are third in the NL in runs, they are first in ERA, and they have one of the more efficient defenses. They probably have more talent on their 40-man roster than any other club. The Dodgers are a great team, and they may well be the best team in the regular season.

But making the postseason doesn’t really move the needle for the Dodgers, who have reached the playoffs in each of the past four years; they’ve been beaten twice in the Division Series round, and twice they’ve lost the NL Championship Series. Another early playoff exit will feel like more of the same — to the team’s fans and to at least some of the players. As a veteran mentioned last year, you get tired of watching the highlights of the 1988 Dodgers on the big screen at Dodger Stadium, from the last time the franchise won the World Series.

Clayton Kershaw‘s situations adds another layer to the Dodgers’ context. Manager Dave Roberts indicated to reporters that the team believes Kershaw will be back for the final weeks of the regular season, and that may turn out to be the case. But Kershaw has had repeated back ailments in recent years, with a condition that is often regressive for athletes, and nobody can predict with certainty whether he will have a setback swinging a bat, running the bases or preparing; it isn’t in Kershaw’s nature to do anything half speed.

By paying the high asking price that the Rangers have set on Darvish — and presumably, it would cost the Dodgers at least one of their best prospects, similar to the Yankees’ asking price for Chapman last season — the Dodgers would build a needed safety net. Beyond the continued concern over Kershaw’s back, Rich Hill and Brandon McCarthy have had blister problems, and Alex Wood went down with a shoulder problem earlier this year. If the Dodgers traded for Darvish, and Kershaw is healthy in October, the Dodgers would be in position to go toe-to-toe with any other rotation: Kershaw and Darvish, followed by their choice of Wood or Hill or McCarthy or Kenta Maeda, depending on health, depending on who is throwing the best, depending on the matchups.

Last year, the Dodgers made a deadline deal for a couple of rentals, Hill and right fielder Josh Reddick. In six regular-season starts, Hill had a 1.83 ERA. The Dodgers passed on another possible deal for reliever Andrew Miller, who would’ve cost them the two primary prospects the Yankees asked of all teams. On one hand, Miller may well have required a swap of Cody Bellinger, and on the other hand, it’s easy to wonder how the Dodgers would’ve fared in the NL Championship Series against the Nationals if they had been armed with Miller, who helped the Indians reach Game 7 of the World Series.

These are painful decisions, and generally, Dodgers baseball ops president Andrew Friedman is known as a careful manager of assets. Some rival evaluators don’t think he’ll step out of his old comfortable robe of operation and do what it takes to get Darvish.

But he should. Now is the Dodgers’ time. They might have the best team the Dodgers have ever fielded in Los Angeles, and Darvish could make the difference.

The New York Yankees should trade for Sonny Gray

The right-hander’s ugly line against Toronto on Tuesday night obscured the excellence of his work — the great changeup, the excellent movement on his fastball, the domination of the lowest sliver of the strike zone. He is 27 years old, he’s healthy and he’s throwing perhaps the best of his career.

When the Yankees made their big trade last week for Tommy Kahnle, David Robertson and Todd Frazier, the rationale was to acquire pitchers who can help them beyond 2017. This is true for Gray, as well. He would help their chances of making the playoffs this year and of winning in the postseason, as Gray is known as a big-stage performer after his strong October showing against the Tigers as a rookie. And he would also help the Yankees’ chances in 2018 and 2019, before he finally reaches free agency.

And there’s no doubt about this: The Yankees need starting pitchers for 2018.Luis Severino will be back, but Michael Pineda was lost to an elbow injury (and would’ve been gone as a free agent, anyway). CC Sabathia’s contract is about to expire, and Masahiro Tanaka could opt out of his deal (and is a major health risk if he stays). Gray would slot in next year and the year after that as the No. 2 or No. 3.

The Yankees are dealing from a greater position of prospect strength than they’ve had in more than two decades, and they should tap into it for the right-hander.

The Chicago Cubs should endeavor to trade for Justin Verlander

It may be that the Cubs and Tigers can’t find middle ground on a Verlander deal, with Detroit insisting on a prospect return as well as financial relief. But he’s a worthwhile target for the Cubs, who might be one of the few teams to which Verlander would approve a trade. Friends say Verlander wants to win now and get back to the World Series, and the Tigers are about to head into a major restructuring.

Verlander is owed about $70 million for the rest of this year and the next two seasons, and the Cubs and Tigers would need to make the money work. If the Cubs can get the Tigers to kick in some big money and turn him into a $20 million-a-year pitcher for them — rather than $28 million — then Chicago would have the flexibility to squeeze him in. John Lackey is making $16 million this year and his contract is set to expire. Jake Arrieta is making $15.637 million, in the last season before he heads into free agency. With the addition of Verlander, the Cubs’ rotation could look like this for 2018:

1. Jon Lester

2. Verlander

3. Quintana

4. Kyle Hendricks

5. Mike Montgomery

It’s possible that, if the Cubs take on a lot of Verlander’s salary in the next week, they could also have a shot at landing coveted reliever Justin Wilson. Rival evaluators say the Tigers are trying to attach some of their more attractive assets to some of the higher salaried players they are working to move.

Gray better fits the Cubs’ budget, of course, but he would cost a big-time package of prospects, and after trading high-end for Chapman and Quintana, Theo Epstein might prefer to take on a salary rather than dip into the best of his minor league pool.

Yankees’ Sonny Gray interest comes from belief this will turn — July 25, 2017

Yankees’ Sonny Gray interest comes from belief this will turn

By Joel Sherman

Sonny Gray

The Blue Jays were just 50-51 when they made the first of two huge deadline deals in 2015, obtaining Troy Tulowitzki from the Rockies three days before they landed David Price from the Tigers.

Toronto was looking at underlying numbers, however, that suggested it could (and probably would) play much better. The Blue Jays’ run differential was plus-94 and the baseball Pythagorean theorem indicated Toronto was more a 60-41 team than 50-51.

So the Blue Jays obtained Tulowitzki and Price, and went from under .500, three games out of the wild card and eight behind the first-place Yankees in the AL East to 93-69, winning the division by six games and finishing with a plus-221 run differential.

The Yankees are sitting in a similar situation. It is one big reason they tried so hard to land their Price (Jose Quintana), did add Todd Frazier, Tommy Kahnle and David Robertson, and probably are not through, with Sonny Gray still a possibility.

The Yanks ended the weekend at 51-46, ranked as the top wild card (but just barely) and 2 ¹/₂ games behind the first-place Red Sox. But at plus-104 runs, the Pythagorean theorem indicated they should be 58-39, which would have them in first place with the second best record in the AL. But the Yanks have the AL’s worst record in one-run games at 9-19, which has skewed their overall record. Their hope is that bolstering their bullpen reverses those results the rest of the way and they take off like the 2015 Blue Jays.

Now, the 2017 Yankees and ’15 Blue Jays are not apples for apples. Toronto had not made the playoffs in 22 years — a period in which the Yanks won five titles — and recognized what it could do for attracting fans to get in. But those Blue Jays also saw a vulnerable first-place team in the Yankees and knew they had 13 games with New York left to reverse the standings.

The 2017 Red Sox have not played as well on the field as they look on paper and the Yanks — already 6-3 against Boston — have 10 post-trade-deadline games left against the Red Sox.

In 2015, Brian Cashman mainly stayed pat at the deadline feeling his organizational depth was not in a place to make big deals. This year, by already trading the well-regarded Blake Rutherford, the Yankees GM has shown he believes his infrastructure is in a different place.

Which is why the Yankees are maintaining interest in available starters, namely Gray.

The Yankees liked Quintana more than Gray for a variety of reasons, none bigger than better durability. They continue to worry about Gray’s ability to stay healthy for a sustained period.

The Yankees and Brewers are viewed as the strongest contenders for Gray, but the Braves have also joined the fray, hoping to perhaps make a long-shot wild-card run this year and be contenders with Gray in 2018-19. The Astros also are staying in touch with the A’s about Gray, who despite his fragility might be the best starting option left in the trade market.

Yu Darvish, a free agent after this season, is not currently available, said an executive for a team interested in him, because the Rangers believe they can make a wild-card run. That situation is fluid, however, and can flip if Texas begins to lose steadily over the next few days.

Justin Verlander would be of more interest to clubs if the Tigers showed a willingness to pay down some of the $28 million the righty is owed both in 2018 and ’19. But the Tigers have not been inclined to do that or lower their prospect ask, moving one executive hunting a starter to say, “I don’t even think about Justin Verlander because I don’t see him available in a legitimate way.”

Gray has endured injury each of the last two seasons, but he is on a five-start run in which he is 4-1 with a 1.62 ERA and a .470 OPS against.

The Yankees thought they had assembled a package as good as the one the Cubs used to get Quintana. They would offer less for Gray, but do have a deep system. Gray is attractive — if healthy — because he would provide the strong starting innings that the 2017 Yankees need while adding a desperately needed sure rotation piece moving forward (he cannot be a free agent until after the 2019 season). Oakland is telling clubs that if it does not get an offer it finds legitimate — likely two strong prospects and two lower-level, lottery-ticket types with significant upside — they will hold onto Gray and try to move him in an offseason when the starting pitching free-agent market might not be appealing. Of course, there is a risk that Gray could break down again and lose value.

The Yankees also have been linked to A’s first baseman Yonder Alonso, but that does not appear a front-burner item for them. Instead, they are more fixated on a starter with the idea that it could be a final piece to have them launch, much like the 2015 Blue Jays did down the stretch.

Stunned Yankees react to Aaron Judge homer almost leaving Safeco Field — July 22, 2017

Stunned Yankees react to Aaron Judge homer almost leaving Safeco Field

ny-yankees-at-seattle-judge homer

By Randy Miller

Brian Cashman says Clint Frazier will be odd man out when Aaron Hicks returns — July 20, 2017

Brian Cashman says Clint Frazier will be odd man out when Aaron Hicks returns

clint frazier..

Clint Frazier is likely to return to the minors when Aaron Hicks comes off the disabled list.


In a wide-ranging interview with WFAN’s Mike Francesa, Brian Cashman announced that Clint Frazier will likely be sent back down to the minors when Aaron Hicks returns from the disabled list.

“When Hicks comes back, assuming everyone stays healthy, (Frazier) will probably be optioned out,” Cashman said, noting Aaron Judge and Brett Gardner would be holding down the two other outfield spots. “There’s no other way to way to fit it all in.”

According to Cashman, Hicks is just two-to-three weeks away from getting back into the lineup.

Since being called up to the Big Leagues, Frazier has shown the promise the Yankees were expecting when they shipped reliever Andrew Miller to the Indians for the prized prospect.

In thirteen game this season, Frazier has hit .298 with three home runs and an impressive .944 OPS.

Aaron Hicks will reclaim a starting role in the Yankees' outfield.

Aaron Hicks will reclaim a starting role in the Yankees’ outfield.


Cashman did note that September call ups will be right around the corner after Hicks’ returns, allowing Frazier to return to the Bronx.

Cashman also praised his current bullpen after the additions of David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle from the White Sox to go along with Aroldis Chapman and Dellin Betances, saying they could give the Yankees four innings a night and that guys will be used in different spots depending on use.

“They have all been sat down and talked to,” Cashman said. “And I think they’re all on notice to expect the unexpected because they’re all capable of pitching high-leverage situations.

“They’re all ready to do whatever’s necessary to help us win.”