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October 20, 2008 at 3:08 PM

2008 Rule 5 Draft

With the Red Sox season coming to an end last night, we now get to look forward to the hot-stove season and the construction of the 2009 roster. One of the first big steps in forming that roster is protecting players for the Rule 5 Draft. Eligible players must be added to their teams’ respective 40-man rosters by November 20 in order to remain protected from selection in the 2008 Rule 5 Draft, which is scheduled to take place on December 11. In the Red Sox organization, the following players will be eligible to be selected if they are not added to Boston’s 40-man roster by November 20:

Bubba Bell, Robert Coello, Jeff Corsaletti, Sean Danielson, Andrew Dobies, Felix Doubront, Zak Farkes, Roberto Feliz, Kyle Fernandes, Javier Garcia, Matt Goodson, Joseph Guerra, Tommy Hottovy, Mike James, Jay Johnson, Chris Jones, Hunter Jones, TJ Large, Will Latimer, Blake Maxwell, Craig Molldrem, Jeff Natale, John Otness, Bryan Pritz, Jose Vaquedano, Mark Wagner, Yahmed Yema, and Armando Zerpa

The following players from the Sox organization are eligible for minor league free agency this off-season. If the Sox re-sign any of these players to minor league deals, they will also be eligible for the Rule 5 Draft:

Juan Apodaca, Manny Arambarris, Miguel Asencio, Jose Capellan, Felipe Garcia, Dave Gassner, Rafael Gil, Keith Ginter, Tony Granadillo, Lee Gronkiewicz, Daniel Haigwood, Mickey Hall, Lincoln Holdzkom, Eric Hull, Jimmy James, Jason Lane, Sandy Madera, Edgar Martinez, Marcus McBeth, Jorge Rodriguez, Luis Segovia, Chris Smith, Kyle Snyder, Iggy Suarez, Jon Switzer, Michael Tejera, Joe Thurston, Beau Vaughn, and Josh Wilson

When the major league free agency period begins in November (sixteen days after the end of the World Series), a number of spots should open up on Boston’s 40-man roster. Eight Red Sox are eligible to become major league free agents at that time, and a few players presently on the 40-man roster may be designated for assignment before that date. As such, space on Boston’s roster is not likely to be a major issue come November 20, and the team will probably add a few of the aforementioned players to its 40-man roster at that time to protect them from selection in the Rule 5 Draft.

The players most likely to be added to the 40-man roster are Bubba Bell, Felix Doubront, Hunter Jones, and Mark Wagner. Beau Vaughan is another possibility if he is re-signed for the 2009 season. With the exception of Doubront, each of these players contributed at AA or above in 2008, and each could vie for playing time with the big league club in the near future. Doubront, the 23rd-ranked prospect in the organization (per SoxProspects.com), spent most of the 2008 season at Low-A Greenville, but is eligible for selection as a result of signing his first pro contract with the Red Sox at the age of sixteen in 2004. In 2008, he went 12-8 with a 3.64 ERA, 118 strikeouts, and 24 walks for Greenville, and 1-1 with a 3.86 ERA in three late-season starts for High-A Lancaster. While its less-than-likely that he could stick on a major league club for the entire 2009 season, the Sox probably won’t want to take the chance of losing him. Other than that, its unlikely that any of those players will be protected – but you never know, as it was somewhat of a surprise to see Argenis Diaz added in 2007, which became somewhat of a necessity after his impressive performance in Hawaii Winter Baseball that off-season.

Rule 5 Rules & History

As many of you know, the major league portion of the Rule 5 Draft allows major league clubs to select certain eligible minor leaguers from other organizations. The original purpose of the Rule 5 Draft (referring to Rule 5 of the Major League Rules) was to prevent teams from stockpiling too many players in the minors.

Minor leaguers that have been under professional contract for four or more years (five or more years if that player signed his first pro contract at the age of 18 or younger) are eligible for the draft unless they are placed on their team’s 40-man roster. The selecting team is required to pay the original team a $50,000 selection fee. The order of the draft is determined by the reverse order of winning percentage from the previous season. If selected in the draft, a player must be kept on the selecting team's 25-man roster for an entire season following the draft. During that season, the player must be “active” for at least ninety days in order to reach the full-season requirement, or that player may be subject to additional service time requirements in the following season. A Rule 5 draftee can be traded, but remains subject to the full season requirements. Once the player meets the full-season requirement, that player becomes property of the selecting team without any restrictions. If the selecting team is unable to keep the player on its 25-man roster for an entire season, the selecting team must offer the player back to his original team, who would hold the option of taking that player back in return for a 50% refund of the selection free ($25,000). Upon return to his original team, selected players are no longer subject to any service restrictions. There are also AAA and AA phases of the Rule 5 Draft, where MLB organizations can select players from other club’s lower tiers if those players are not protected on the original club’s AAA and AA reserved lists.

While the Rule 5 Draft has essentially evolved into a procedural draft without a great deal of fanfare, historically a number of high-caliber players have been selected in the draft, such as Roberto Clemente, George Bell, Bobby Bonilla, Darrel Evans, and Johan Santana. While the Red Sox opted not to make any selections in 2008, a few notable Sox selections in recent years include Adam Stern (2004), Lenny DiNardo (2003), and Javier Lopez (2002 – ultimately returned to Arizona and later acquired in 2006 in an unrelated trade).

In 2008, there were only eighteen total selections made in the entire major league portion of the draft, with several clubs opting not to make a selection. Only four of those selected players spent the full 2008 season with their selecting team: Randor Bierd, Wesley Wright, Brian Barton, and R.A. Dickey. Of those players, Wright (selected from the Dodgers) was the only one player that made much of an impact in 2008, going 4-3 with a 5.01 ERA at 57 strikeouts in 55.2 innings of relief for Houston. This season, Washington holds the first pick, followed by Seattle, San Diego, and Pittsburgh. Boston has the 27th pick. Don’t expect much of a splash from that position if Boston even makes a selection. Nowadays, with the importance of roster flexibility for a top-tier team such as the Red Sox, the Rule 5 Draft is more about protecting the right players then it is about finding a diamond-in-the-rough from some other organization.