Oakland Athletics Roundup: Friday, November 20
The Rule 5 Draft is coming up soon, and Friday is the deadline for teams to “protect” their players. Minor league players who signed with a team as 18-year-olds (high school draft picks) are eligible after five years, and players who are 19 years or older (college draft picks) are eligible after four. In order for the Oakland Athletics to prevent another team from drafting one of their eligible players, they must add him to the 40-man roster.
The Athletics successfully drafted Mark Canha via the Rule 5 Draft last season. It’s an inexpensive gamble. These are typically players who are close to the major leagues, but not considered valuable enough to be protected, and they’re available for the low price of $50,000. The catch, of course, is that whoever is selected must be kept on the major league roster for a full season (and no stashing someone on the disabled list; then the clock just pauses until he’s healthy) or be offered back to the original team for $25,000.
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So which Athletics’ players will make the cut for roster protection? They have quite a few prospects who are eligible for the draft, but the most obvious is infielder Joey Wendle. There’s absolutely no way that Wendle is not protected. Infielder Colin Walsh is another eligible position player, but there are plenty of low-cost, experienced infielders on the free agent market, so it seems unlikely that he’ll be targeted by any team – and it’s nearly unfathomable that someone would be able to keep him on a big league roster all year.
The bigger question is how they will handle their eligible pitchers.
Aaron Kurcz, Kris Hall and Tucker Healy are all right-handed relievers who will be eligible for the draft this season. Pitchers are a lot easier for teams – especially non-contending ones – to stash in the bullpen for an entire season. Even if they struggle, there will always be long-relief, mop-up situations to use them in, whereas position players are a little harder to hide.
All four players have earned protection, and they’ll be risky to leave open to the draft. Healy would be the one to gamble on, given that he had a rough 2014 after being promoted to Triple-A, and other teams will take into account that the pitcher-friendly Texas League helped him achieve a 1.95 ERA when he returned to Double-A this year. The A’s could certainly better utilize the roster spot, and Kris Hall is probably in a similar situation. But Kurcz, who is considered a top 30 prospect, is another risky choice to leave off the list.
If the A’s do protect Wendle and Kurcz, or any number of these players, they’ll need to clear room on their 40-man roster – in addition to the spot they already need to clear for Rich Hill. It should be a busy day on the waiver wire.
In Case You Missed It:
The 2000-2006 Playoff Teams: Not Just Moneyball – In the next chapter of his series, Rich Paloma looks at the off-season moves that helped the Athletics put together the outstanding squads of the “moneyball” era.
Around the Web
Athletics Nation: Who Should A’s Protect in Rule 5 Draft? – Athletics Nation has their own opinion about who to protect and who to leave at risk in this year’s draft, as well as thoughts on some lesser-known eligible players. Be sure to check it out for another prospective.