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November 20, 2015 at 7:30 AM

Light, Hernandez top list of potential Friday roster additions

On Friday, the Red Sox will decide which minor league players to add to the 40-man roster in order to protect them from selection in the Rule 5 Draft, which will take place in early December at the Winter Meetings. Often a process that draws inordinate fan attention in comparison to its actual importance, the modern Rule 5 Draft rarely, if ever, results in the selection of an impact player along the lines of past Rule 5 draftees Johan Santana, Josh Hamilton, and Joakim Soria. However, teams' determinations of who to protect, who not to protect, and who to cut loose in order to make roster additions can still have at least moderate impact down the line - see the Red Sox's busy 2012 set of roster moves, in which they declined to protect Josh Fields, designated David Carpenter and Danny Valencia for assignment to make room for other players, and protected Dan Butler and Alex Hassan, where the first three have since been positive MLB contributors and the latter two have barely seen time in the majors between them.

This season, Red Sox face only very simple decisions regarding who to protect from selection. To start, the trade of outfielder Manuel Margot removed the lone slam-dunk 40-man roster addition from the organization, with Craig Kimbrel effectively taking his roster spot. Of the players left, shortstop Marco Hernandez and right-handed reliever Pat Light are near-certain additions, with left-handed reliever Williams Jerez also a possibility. But before we review the players eligible for selection if left unprotected, let's review the basics of the draft. Further details can be found on the SoxProspects.com Wiki.


All players on reserve lists are eligible except players on the Retired, Disqualified, or Ineligible lists and shall be subject to Rule 5 draft selection in accordance with the following:
  • If 18 years old or younger on the June 5 preceding the player's original signing date, the player is subject to selection at the fifth Rule 5 Draft following the player's signing date.
  • If 19 years old or older on the June 5 preceding the player's original signing date, the player is subject to selection at the fourth Rule 5 Draft following the player's signing date.
  • If a player is released and re-signed by the same club within one year, that player's Rule 5 eligibility is based on his original contract with that club.
  • Any player who has previously been subject to a Rule 5 Draft is subject to all subsequent Rule 5 Drafts.
  • A club may designate any player who would otherwise not be subject to these rules as eligible for the Rule 5 Draft.

Just as in the June first-year player draft, clubs pick in reverse order of winning percentage from the previous season. Selections are made in three phases: Major League, Triple-A, and Double-A. Eligible players not protected on the MLB 40-man roster are eligible to be selected in the MLB phase of the draft. Eligible players not protected on the MLB 40-man roster or the Triple-A Reserve List are subject to selection in the Triple-A phase. Eligible players not protected on the MLB 40-man roster, the Triple-A Reserve List, or the Double-A Reserve List are subject to selection in the Double-A phase. (Note that the Triple-A and Double-A Reserve Lists are not publicly available. Having seen those in past years, I will represent that typically 5-10 draft-eligible players in the Red Sox organization are not on the Triple-A reserve list.) Don't worry about the Triple-A and Double-A phases any further, though, as the rest of this primer will focus on the Major League portion of the Draft.

A team that selects a player in the Rule 5 Draft pays compensation to the team from which he was selected based on what round in which he was selected. Compensation is $50,000 for a pick added to the Major Leauge reserve list. Per Rule 6, the receiving team must then keep the player on the Major League 25-man roster for the entirety of the next season, and the selected player must remain active (not on the disabled list) for a minimum of 90 days. (For an example of this, see the Baltimore Orioles' roster manipulation that kept Rule 5 pick Jason Garcia on their active roster for 93 days in 2015.) If the player does not remain on the Major League roster, he is offered back to the team from which he was selected for $25,000. If his original team declines, the receiving team may waive the player.

Players eligible for selection

The list of Red Sox not presently on the 40-man roster and eligible for selection in the Major League portion of the draft follows: 

Mario Alcantara, Mike Augliera, Ty Buttrey, David Chester, Carlos Coste, Keith Couch, Allen Craig, William Cuevas, Jacob Dahlstrand, Jeffry Fernandez, Edwar Garcia, Carlos Garcia, Justin Haley, Kevin Heller, Marco Hernandez, Williams Jerez, Zach Kapstein, Kyle Kraus, Pat Light, Deiner Lopez, Austin Maddox, Brandon Magee, Jorge Marban, Chris Marrero, Mike McCarthy, Simon Mercedes, Mike Miller, Aneudis Peralta, Randy Perez, Yankory Pimentel, Carlos Pinales, Heri Quevedo, Henry Ramos, Tim Roberson, Dioscar Romero, Danny Rosenbaum, Robby Scott, David Sopilka, Alixon Suarez, Aneury Tavarez, German Taveras, Jervis Torrealba, Jose Vinicio, JT Watkins, Jordan Weems

There are presently 39 players on the 40-man roster, meaning that there will also likely be players removed from the roster on Friday. But be aware that the decision for teams is not as easy as determining which player they would prefer to keep on the roster. Players selected in the Rule 5 Draft, as noted, must stay on the selecting team's Major League active roster all season long. Compare that to a player claimed on waivers after being designated for assignment, who may be optioned to the minors if he has options remaining, making such a player easier to stash if a team has room on its 40-man roster. For that reason, designating one player for assignment in order to add another represents a significant commitment to the latter player.

Likely to be protected

Marco Hernandez - Traded to the Red Sox from the Cubs as the player to be named later in the Felix Doubront trade, Hernandez had something of a breakout season in his first season as a Red Sox, jumping all the way from being unranked at the start of the season to his current spot at number 14 on the SoxProspects.com rankings. A good defender at short with above-average speed and a short, quick stroke, he hit .326/.349/.482 in half a season in Portland before earning a promotion to Pawtucket, where he saw time at second and third base as well. Although he did not have quite as much success at the plate in Triple-A, Hernandez projects as a major league utility infielder and could be just that quite soon, making his selection in the Rule 5 Draft near-certain if left unprotected.

Pat Light - After two-and-a-half middling seasons starting, Light took off after being moved to the bullpen this season and returning to using a splitter as his primary secondary pitch. Now able to dial his fastball up into the mid-90s, Light quickly proved himself ready to jump from Portland to Pawtucket. Relief pitchers, being the most fungible and easiest to hide on a roster if they are not quite MLB-ready, are the most popular Rule 5 commodity, and one like Light who has flashed closer potential would be snapped up quickly if left unprotected, despite whatever struggles he had after moving up to Triple-A. Expect Light to be protected.

May potentially be protected

Williams Jerez - A former second-round pick, Jerez washed out as an outfielder before moving to the mound in 2014. Two seasons in, the conversion is already a rousing success, as Jerez has jumped from Rookie ball all the way to Double-A in that time. Again, as a reliever, Jerez is likely to be selected if left unprotected, but the question is whether the Red Sox think enough of Jerez and his potential at this point to clear room by designating one of the players listed below for assignment. He does not necessarily have Light's closer upside, even though his pitchability may give him a higher floor.

Unlikely to be protected

Ty Buttrey - Despite being ranked in the SoxProspects.com top 20 like the three players above, we do not project Buttrey to be added to the 40-man roster. Finishing the season in High A Salem, Buttrey still showed that he has significant development ahead of him, struggling at times to maintain his mechanics and showing glimpses of a lack of on-mound composure that he has worked on overcoming. Buttrey also switched from using a knuckle-curve to a traditional curveball during the year, and the pitch understandably still has a long way to go. Given how much work Buttrey still has left before he is major league ready and the lack of a true plus pitch that could carry him in the majors, even if selected, Buttrey would likely be returned to the Red Sox before the end of camp. Given the amount of down time that would be needed to keep Buttrey on an MLB roster all season, the essential lost year would be quite harmful to Buttrey's development and leave the selecting team with an asset worth far less than if he were just left alone in the Sox system. The club will likely wait a year before adding the big North Carolinian to the roster.

Justin Haley - It is not rare for a player to put himself on the Rule 5 map with a great showing in the Arizona Fall League, and Haley just might be such a player this season. Haley struggled in Portland in 2015 after a quietly solid 2014 campaign, but in four AFL starts, he has struck out 12 batters to two walks in 14 innings, allowing just a single earned run. The Red Sox are unlikely to add the right-hander based solely on his fall showing, but another team may want to bring him into camp figuring the worst that happens is they pay $25,000 to get an up-close look at Haley for a few weeks.

Simon Mercedes, Jorge Marban, German Taveras, Robby Scott - At some point, adding relievers to the 40-man roster brings diminishing returns. There are already 10 relievers on the Red Sox roster, that number possibly jumping to 12 depending on who the Red Sox add and subtract on Friday. Even if one of these three could be selected in December, the club will determine it is not worth clearing a spot for fungible MLB bullpen depth.

William Cuevas - Cuevas had an interesting season, but projects as a spot starter in the majors given his pedestrian arsenal. He will not be protected, especially given the club's spot starter depth.

Henry Ramos - Two major leg injuries in two seasons mean that Ramos has missed too much development time to use a precious roster spot on him yet. A good athlete in the outfield, Ramos needs to show he can stay on the field before he is worthy of protection.

Austin Maddox - The former third-round pick has been listed as a potential addition in a couple other spots, so I wanted to address him, but in my opinion is that there is no chance he is added to the roster. Maddox has missed significant time over the past two seasons, with at least last season's absence due to off-field issues. He will be fighting for his minor league roster spot next spring.

Potential DFA Candidates

There are a number of players the Red Sox may be willing to part with in order to protect the likes of Hernandez, Light, and Jerez. 

Anthony Varvaro - The club already designated the right-hander for assignment once this season, although he was not one of the relievers removed from the roster back on November 6, when the team parted with Jean Machi, Ryan Cook, and Alexi Ogando. Still, depending on the latest news regarding his injury, he could be on the chopping block.

Josh Rutledge, Roman Mendez - Claimed from other teams during the season, the Red Sox may deem these two expendable. In Rutledge's case, the emergence of Travis Shaw and the presence of Brock Holt could make him redundant in the team's eyes. As for Mendez, while he possesses the type of power arm Dave Dombrowski loves, the club may try to sneak him through waivers with teams maxing out their rosters.

Sean Coyle, Bryce Brentz, Garin Cecchini - It may not yet be likely that one of these three homegrown players is removed from the roster, but none justified their continued presence on it in 2015. Cecchini could not hit, Brentz once again could not stay on the field, and Coyle struggled in both respects. If they make it through the offseason on the roster, each of these players will need to improve greatly in 2016 in order to last another season without being traded or waived.

Edwin Escobar - The left-hander missed the start of the season due to injury and failed to pitch his way back into contention for the major league roster after returning to action in Pawtucket. Now farther down the depth chart than he was entering 2015 and out of options, Escobar will need to pass through waivers anyway if he does not make the major league roster out of spring training. Might the Red Sox designate him for assignment in the hopes of either trading him or passing him through waivers?

Jonathan Aro - Although he may just qualify as bullpen depth at this point, putting him in this conversation, the question is whether the likes of Jerez are significant enough improvements to justify a swap with Aro on the roster. Perhaps the Red Sox are willing to bet that Aro will clear waivers, but otherwise, I find it hard to think that Aro is low enough on the depth chart to designate him at this time.

Chris Hatfield is Executive Editor of SoxProspects.com. Follow him on Twitter @SPChrisHatfield.