Oakland Athletics protect three players from Rule 5 draft

The Oakland Athletics have added three players to their 40-man roster in advance of the Rule 5 draft.
Feb 23, 2018; Mesa, AZ, USA; A general view of a logo on the field prior to the game between the Los
Feb 23, 2018; Mesa, AZ, USA; A general view of a logo on the field prior to the game between the Los / Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

The deadline for MLB teams to add players to their 40-man rosters and protect them from eligibility in the Rule 5 draft has come and gone. The Oakland A’s selected the contracts of three players: SS Darell Hernaiz, RHP Royber Salinas, and LHP Brady Basso.

Eight of the A’s top-30 prospects, according to MLB Pipeline, were eligible for the Rule 5 draft. After Tuesday’s deadline, the A’s now have 39 players on their 40-man roster. It’s fair to assume that the A’s will use that final open spot to select a player with the first pick in the Rule 5 draft on Dec 6.

It’s unlikely that any of the three players protected today will see time in the majors in 2024. Roster Resource currently has Hernaiz penciled into the active 26-man roster as the starting shortstop, but it seems unrealistic to think that he’ll be on the opening day squad.

The A’s are due to pay Aledmys Diaz $8 million next year, and despite his offensive struggles Nick Allen is a strong defender at short. Couple them with any potential free agent or trade addition and Hernaiz likely ends up as the fourth or fifth option at the six next year.

Whether he makes the 2024 roster or not doesn’t take away the success he had this year. Acquired from the Orioles in the Cole Irvin trade, Hernaiz split time between Double-A and Triple-A in 2023. He had a strong showing in Double-A, hitting .338/.393/.486 with 5 homers and 7 steals in 308 plate appearances.

His success continued after getting a mid-season promotion to Triple-A, where he hit .300/.376/.418 with 4 homers, 6 steals, and good plate discipline in the second half. At just 21 years old, Hernaiz has been young for basically every level of the minors and has held his own. If any of the three see time in the big leagues in 2024, Hernaiz is the most likely candidate.

Salinas worked through some struggles at Double-A this year, posting a 5.48 ERA in 67.1 innings. His stuff is sharp, as noted by his 30.9% strikeout rate, but he has yet to post a walk rate under 10% in any stop in the minor leagues in his five professional seasons.

He’s worked primarily as a starter throughout his career but if he can’t control his pitches, and the evidence points to that being the case, he’s likely going to transition to the bullpen. It might be a better fit for him regardless. Salinas sits in the mid-90’s with the fastball but can touch 98-99. A move to the bullpen would allow the velocity to play up. Coupled with his slider/curveball combo, he could make for a formidable reliever.

Basso was the A’s 16th round pick in the 2019 draft. He threw 25.2 innings in 2019, missed the entire 2020 season when Covid-19 shut down the minor leagues, and threw just 21 innings in 2021 before being shut down with elbow soreness. He ended up getting Tommy John surgery and missed the entirety of the 2022 season.

Despite the setbacks, Basso came on strong in 2023. He tore up High-A, throwing to a 2.64 ERA in 44.1 innings with good strikeout and walk rates. Basso finished out with 19 innings at Double-A, posting a 1.89 ERA and 19 strikeouts to just 4 walks. With so few total innings thrown in his career, it seems likely that the A’s will want to keep him in the minors next year to build up his arm strength a bit more. He should start 2024 at Double-A and look for a promotion to Triple-A before the end of the season.