The deadline to protect players from the Rule 5 Draft is today, and the Dodgers have a couple players whom they’re likely to protect.
I looked at this when I reset the 40-man roster a few weeks ago.
“The only for sure adds here are Oaks and Santana. Oaks was having a strong season before suffering a couple nagging injuries, and Santana had a breakout 2017 season. Broussard is a solid relief-only prospect, while Kowalczyk has a big arm but not much else. Bellinger would have been on the 2013 list if he hadn’t been promoted this season. None of the other high schoolers drafted by the Dodgers in 2013 are still in the organization. That means the Dodgers will have to clear three 40-man roster spots with the additions of Oaks, Santana and the assumed exercising of Forsythe’s option. It seems like Dickson, Font or Locastro are the most in danger of losing a 40-man roster spot. And if they avoid the ax now, it still may come later in the winter.”
Oaks and Santana are Trevor Oaks and Dennis Santana. The other players who are Rule 5 eligible mentioned above are Joe Broussard and Karch Kowalczyk — neither of whom are realistic adds. Broussard could interest a team looking for cheap relief help, but if he isn’t added, he’ll likely spend most of 2018 with Oklahoma City.
Oh, and here’s a refresher on what the Rule 5 Draft is and who’s eligible for it.
“Players who were signed when they were 19 or older and have played in professional baseball for four years are eligible, as are players who were signed at 18 and have played for five years. All players on a Major League Baseball team’s 40-man roster, regardless of other eligibility factors, are ‘protected’ and ineligible for the Rule 5 Draft.”
Oaks was the Dodgers’ 7th-round draft pick in 2013 and Santana was signed in March 2014.
The problem here is, the Dodgers’ 40-man roster is currently full, so to get Oaks and Santana on there, there will need to be two moves.
Grant Dayton and Julio Urias will begin the 2018 season on the 60-day disabled list, but there is no 60-day DL in the offseason. So, the Dodgers are going to have to make a couple decisions about players on the roster. Let’s look at the options.
Font was the PCL Pitcher of the Year in 2017, but his brief stint with the Dodgers was unimpressive. He’s out of options, so that makes him a bit more expendable. Locastro was a late addition to the roster last season, but he has a utility player ceiling who doesn’t have a ton of value. If he were designated for assignment, I’m betting a team would snatch him up. Ravin has a big fastball, but that’s about it. I’ve not really been impressed with his Dodger tenure and, like Font, is out of options, making him a little less valuable. Segedin missed a lot of last season with a couple injuries and wouldn’t exactly be missed if the Dodgers parted ways with him.
All the DFA/release candidates are trade candidates, but they don’t have a ton of value to begin with. Baez might need a fresh start and it wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibility if the Dodgers moved him tomorrow. It’s not terribly likely, but stranger things have happened. Fields has solid stuff, but he has a severe home run problem. He could be a decent trade chip, just like Baez. Thompson got off to a horrible start and never really recovered. He showed glimpses of stardom in 2016, but a couple fractures in his back derailed that season. I don’t think the Dodgers would let Thompson leave for nothing, but with Alex Verdugo on the 40-man and Andrew Toles coming back, the outfield is getting awfully crowded.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Scott Kazmir. He had a lost 2017 season and isn’t getting any younger. Heading into the last year of his deal, he’s a real candidate to not be on the 40-man to begin the season. Take that however you want — DFA, released, traded, retire, etc. — but if he’s on either roster on Opening Day, it’ll be surprising.
This comes down to how much the Dodgers value Oaks and Santana compared to the guys listed above. Oaks pitched 147 innings at Triple-A level, so he’s almost MLB-ready. Santana had a breakout 2017 season and made it to Double-A. His fastball/slider combination is, at worst, a nice reliever profile. These guys have more value than the likes of Font, Ravin, et al.
There will be other 40-man moves this winter, but the first ones to protect these Rule 5-eligible players will go down today.