Monday, December 14, 2009

Slow Hot-Stove Day = Explaining Rule V Draft…!

I check my iPhone way too many times per day trying to get the latest information going on in Major League Baseball and the Giants. It’s honestly probably a bit of a problem. I detest days like today where I check 50 times and learn absolutely nothing new and interesting. So, it leaves me no choice but to explain the Rule V (five) draft! I know you are all on the edge of your seats…

Why should you care? Well, because players like Shane Victorino, Dan Uggla, Johan Santana and David Ortiz have been selected in the Rule V. Who else? Have you ever heard of a former Pirate named Roberto Clemente?

Every June MLB holds the Rule 4 draft but 1) we just call if the “Amateur Draft” or the “Draft.” I don’t feel it necessary to get into that draft because I think the process is generally understood. Perhaps, however, I will get into the idea of slotting (and if I am feeling REALLY ambitious the hypothetical salary cap and parity issues in baseball) at a later date. Stay tuned. But every December during the General Manager Winter Meetings they hold the Rule 5. Not every team must make a selection but the order is done just as the June draft, i.e. the Pirates, I mean the crummiest teams get first pick and most years the Yankees select last. The reason they hold the draft is essentially to protect the minor league players that have been around a while. If signed at 18 or younger the player has 5 years of exemption while those signed at 19 and above are exempt for only 4 years. Once a players exemption period has expired, the organization must place him on the 40-man roster prior to the Rule 5 to protect him from being snatched by another admiring GM. The Giants, for example, placed Darren Ford (acquired during Ray Durham trade to Brewers), Kevin Pucetas, Brett Pill (this guy had an excellent season in the difficult Eastern League which is one of the least hitter friendly leagues in the minors) and Francisco Peguero. I had a chance to see Peguero play in the California League Championship in San Jose. He’s a very promising CF prospect that you may want to keep an eye on. Anyway, if this draft did not exist, a team might stockpile players in their system that might otherwise be given a shot on another team’s Big club.

The reason some teams do not make any selections is that they may not have any room on their 40-man roster which is already full. This is because any player selected in the Rule V must immediately be placed on the claiming team’s 40-man roster. Also, when the season begins the selected player must remain on the claiming team’s active 25-man roster for the entirety of the season. If not, the player is essentially offered back to the original organization for $25,000 (half of the $50,000 it costs to take a Rule 5 draft pick). Once the player has been on the claiming organizations active 25-man roster for the entire season his status goes back to normal and he can be sent to the minors. This is a nifty way for a rebuilding team to claim a good prospect. A contending team might be more reluctant to keep a prospect on their active roster for an entire season, for obvious reasons.

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