Dodgers have easy Rule 5 protection decisions

Mike reset the 40-man roster on Monday, and it’s already pretty full. Sure, there will be guys who opt-out, get designated for assignment/released and traded at some point this winter. The Dodgers also have to make a couple decisions on adding prospects to the 40-man roster.

Last year, the Dodgers added Zach Lee, Chris Reed and Scott Schebler to the 40-man roster to protect them from the Rule 5 Draft. Lee and Schebler were no-brainers, while Reed was almost a no-brainer, but only because of the investment the Dodgers had in him. This is evidenced by his eventual designation and trade to the Marlins for Grant Dayton.

Here’s some background on the players who need to be protected.

“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.”

Generally, this means guys who were drafted in 2012 out of college and guys drafted in 2011 out of high school. For international guys, it’s pretty straight-forward.

Here are some of the eligible Rule 5 guys for this year.

Ross Stripling
Scott Griggs
Jeremy Rathjen
Jharel Cotton

Alex Santana
Scott Barlow

This isn’t everyone who is eligible, but they are guys who at least have some talent who could be targeted by teams in the Rule 5. If any of these guys are drafted, the player must remain on the active roster (25-man) for the entire season, or be offered back to the team from which they were drafted for $25,000, which is half the cost of what it costs to draft them. They can also trade/sell them to other teams, but the rules about remaining on the 25-man roster still applies.

Basically, teams are gambling $25,000-50,000 on guys who might turn out to be solid (or better) contributors. Some of the most notable Rule 5 picks include Everth Cabrera, Josh Hamilton (under special circumstances, obviously), Johan Santana, Joakim Soria and Dan Uggla. More recently (i.e. 2014-15), Delino DeShields and Odubel Herrera were chosen and stuck with their teams the entire season — and produced.

Of the players listed above, the only lock to be added to an already-full Dodger 40-man roster is Cotton. He would, no doubt, be popped by a team and given a shot in the majors after he had another fantastic season. Cotton should be in the OKC Dodgers’ rotation to begin 2015.

Another guy who should be in the OKC rotation next year is Stripling. He returned from Tommy John surgery to post some solid numbers overall (3.66 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 2.6 BB/9, 7.4 K/9). If not for the surgery, he would have made his debut in 2015 (maybe 2014, depending how things went). As a college draftee in 2012, he’ll need to be added to the 40-man to be protected. I’m not sure he’ll get the add. His strikeout rate dipped and he’ll be entering his age-26 season with no experience above Double-A. Stil, he showed a ot before the injury that a team might take a chance on him for some cheap production in the starting rotation. I’d put the odds at 50/50.

Other than those two, no other player listed above has a real shot to be drafted. Griggs looked like he’d be a fast-moving reliever after being drafted, but he missed the entire 2014 season and hasn’t shown a ton of control/command in his first 100 2/3 innings in professional ball (6.4 BB/9). Barlow had Tommy John shortly after being drafted in 2011 and still has some good upside. But he only made it to High-A this season and the only way he gets on a 25-man roster is as a reliever, which would stunt his development as a starter. Santana and Rathjen are listed only because one was a high draft pick (Santana, second round) and one fell in the draft because of an injury (Rathjen, 10th round). Neither have performed well enough for the Dodgers to worry about losing them. The Dodgers didn’t make a ton of international signings in 2011, but did in 2012. However, none of them are in “danger” of being selected.

It’ll be interesting to see who is left unprotected by other teams for the December draft. One thing is for sure: Cotton will be added to the 40-man in November, if he’s still with the organization.

About Dustin Nosler

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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.