Looking at the players the Dodgers should protect from 2022 Rule 5 Draft

Diego Cartaya (Photo: Cody Bashore)

With the offseason about to fully take off, there will be some minor or procedural moves made before (and after) there are any significant transactions to impact the MLB or 40-man roster.

One thing that hasn’t changed in the new Collective Bargaining Agreement is the Rule 5 Draft, which is scheduled for the last day of the Winter Meetings. As such, teams have to protect players from said draft. Here’s a quick refresher as to how the Rule 5 eligiblity and protections work.

“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.”

Last year, I mistakenly omitted Eddys Leonard and Jorbit Vivas — both of whom the Dodgers ended up protecting (despite not playing above A-ball in 2021), as well as Jacob Amaya, Michael Grove and James Outman.

They probably won’t have five players to protect this year, but the quality of player is a step up from previous years.

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Aside from everyone previously Rule 5 eligible who went undrafted and are not on the 40-man roster, here are the newly eligible Rule 5ers.

Position Players

Pitchers

The iron-clad, no-brainer locks to be added are Busch, Cartaya and Pages. All three are among the Dodgers’ Top 6-7 prospects, with Cartaya topping most (if not all) lists. Busch probably would have been in the majors if he were in any other organization and Pages might be the org’s best power-hitting prospect.

DeLuca is an interesting cat. He’s one of the best power-speed prospects the Dodgers have and gives off AJ Pollock vibes. He’ll probably never be that good at the MLB level, but he has a chance to be a solid contributor. And with the Dodgers adding lower-level guys like Leonard and Vivas last year, it wouldn’t be completely shocking to see them add Ramos, who is a lighter version of Pages.

On the pitching side, there’s no clear-cut lock among the lot. Duran has the most intriguing stuff of the pitchers listed above, but he also hasn’t pitched above High-A and logged just 49 2/3 innings this past season. He’s also just 20 years old, so the odds of another team popping him are slim. We also know the Dodgers think pretty highly of Choi, who was their 2021 Minor League Pitcher of the Year. He missed most of 2022 with an injury and has eight appearances in the Arizona Fall League. The other pitchers who haven’t pitched above A-ball are Belge, Fisher and Rosario. Belge has a chance because he’s left-handed, but he’s also going into his age-25 season. Fisher just finished his first season back from Tommy John surgery and Rosario — signed at the same time as Cartaya — had a rough go as a first-timer in full-season ball.

Robertson might be the only pitcher the Dodgers consider protecting, seeing as he’s the closest to the majors and a reliever. He made it to Triple-A and can miss bats (career 28.7 K%), but he also has seen his command/control take a slight step backward as he has moved up the ladder. Still, the Dodgers love their low-cost relievers, and Robertson would fit that bill. One of the main things working against him is the roster crunch. The 40-man roster is currently at 36 players (Beau Burrows was outrighted and subsequently elected free agency since I did the 40-man roster reset after the Dodgers were eliminated), and they’re for sure adding Busch, Cartaya and Pages. There might not be room for Robertson at this point. They have opted against protecting relievers who eventually made it to the majors via the Rule 5 — Brett de Geus and Jordan Sheffield — so it remains to be seen if they end up protecting Robertson.

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If I’m Andrew Friedman (and I am, decidedly, not), I’m protecting the three players I have mentioned already and DeLuca. With the Dodgers potentially needing right-handed hitting depth, DeLuca and his power-speed combination, as well as ability to play center field, could come in handy for LA. I’d take a chance on not protecting Robertson.

The deadline for adding players to the 40-man roster to protect them from the Rule 5 Draft is Nov. 15 at 3 p.m. Pacific time. I don’t expect any surprises with this. I also wouldn’t expect anyone to poach anyone not protected, outside of maybe Robertson, unless you get a talent-starved org looking for a high-risk, medium-to-high-reward guy (Duran, Ramos, etc.).

About Dustin Nosler

Dustin Nosler began writing about the Dodgers in July 2009 at his blog, Feelin' Kinda Blue. He co-hosted a weekly podcast with Jared Massey called Dugout Blues. He was a contributor/editor at The Hardball Times and True Blue LA. He graduated from California State University, Sacramento, with his bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in digital media. While at CSUS, he worked for the student-run newspaper The State Hornet for three years, culminating with a 1-year term as editor-in-chief. He resides in Stockton, Calif.