40-man roster, Rule 5 draft
This post has been edited to reflect the decision to not call up Rene Rivera, as previously reported
It’s a holiday and I feel guilty for not posting much last week, so I’ll knock this out now. As I mentioned in the callups post below, adding Rene Rivera to the 40-man roster puts the Mariners in a bit of a bind for roster spots this coming offseason. The M’s have several mid-tier prospects who project as possible role players at the major league level that will be available to anyone with $25,000 in the rule 5 draft if the M’s do not place them on the 40-man roster this offseason.
The 40 man is composed of the active 25-man roster as well as 15 prospects from the minor leagues. The rules of eligibility for the rule 5 draft are pretty complex, but here’s a basic summary. Any player drafted in 2001 or earlier needs to be on the 40 man roster or they will be exposed to the rule 5 draft. College draftees from the 2002 draft need to be protected, but most of the high schoolers do not (it depends on your age). Don’t worry about not seeing guys like Felix Hernandez on the list below; he doesn’t need to be on the 40 man, and he’s not available in the rule 5 draft.
Below is my projection on how the fourty spots will be allocated and which players the M’s will potentially see plucked from the system.
Guaranteed to be on the roster
Cha Seung Baek
That’s 28 guys who you can say with almost absolute certainty that the M’s will have on the 40 man roster next year. Of those 28, you would expect Baek, Blackley, Nageotte, Strong, Snelling, Ugueto, Reed and Thornton to begin 2005 in the minors. That means that the team will need to sign, at a minimum, three free agents to fill out an active 25-man roster. In reality, the team will probably sign 4 or 5, but for now, we’ll just assume they fill the roster with three players. That means we’ve got 31 guaranteed roster spots from the above players and the trio of new guys, leaving 9 roster spots for the rest of the organization.
Guys who are on the 40 man now who will probably still be here next year
It’s not a mortal lock that Wee Willie is back next year. He’s starting to get near the service time levels to demand more than the league minimum and the new manager won’t share Melvin’s appreciation for Bloomquist’s ability to out-and-out suck. It would be an upset, but not out of the realm of possiblity, if the M’s decided to ship Bloomquist off in favor of a new utility man. Dobbs, Santiago, and Taylor have enough fans in the organization to stick around, and the team has vested enough in Rett’s comeback to see if he can eventually get back to where he was in 2003 to cut him loose now. If these 6 players all stick around, that puts the roster at 37, leaving 3 spots open.
Guys on the 40 man who may be designated for assignment
Actually, I’d expect all six of these guys to be DFA’d at the end of the season, with a minor league contract offered to each. The M’s did this with Ryan Anderson and Ryan Christianson after injuries ruined their prospect status, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Heaverlo and Looper continue the tradition. Assuming that none of these six make the cut (and the M’s only sign three free agents), that leaves three open spots to protect the eligible rule 5 prospects in the system.
Legitimate prospects who need to be added to the 40 man roster this winter
Morse’s suspension probably won’t cost him a 40 man spot, and Livingston and Choo are mortal locks to get added. Rivera is the odd man out now, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they find room for him somehow. That brings us to 40, and this is assuming the M’s only sign three free agents. For each free agent they sign above three, the M’s will have to clear a spot by either designating a current roster player for assignment or leaving one of the three prospects above unprotected. They won’t let Choo or Livingston go, and Morse is a longshot, so the odds would be on a guy like Atchison getting DFA’d.
Possible rule 5 selections that the M’s will leave exposed
T. A. Fulmer
T. J. Bohn
Once you get past Fulmer, the rest of those guys are pretty long shots to get selected. Christianson’s health will probably scare off most teams, so I doubt he goes either. Thomas, Dorman, and Rowland-Smith are all decent possibilities, exactly the type of pitchers who usually gets taken in the rule 5 draft. Also available, but not listed, is the epic bust of the Frank Mattox era, Michael Garciaparra. And how bad was the 2002 M’s draft? Not one of the college selections is going to be protected this year, and right now, I wouldn’t project any of the high school kids to be protected next year either. It’s likely that no member of the M’s 2002 draft class will ever reach Seattle. That was an abominable draft of historic proportions. A failure like that in normal society would cost several people their jobs. Frank Mattox, a year (and another abymsal draft) later, got a promotion. I’m just saying…
Losing those guys wouldn’t be a huge blow, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Dorman or Rowland-Smith turned into effective relievers within the next few years. The M’s have painted themselves into a bit of a roster crunch, and the awarding of multiyear contracts and 40-man roster spots to terrible players may end costing them actual talent.