Bargain Shopping In The Rule 5 Draft

There’s a pretty good chance that the Boston Red Sox will add a player on Thursday morning. 


No, I don’t have the inside scoop on how negotiations with Jason Bay are going.  I’m referring to baseball’s annual Rule 5 draft which gets underway at 9:00 am at the winter meetings in Indianapolis.


The Rule 5 draft is baseball’s ultimate bargain bin shopping event.  It was created to prevent teams from stockpiling too many young players on their minor league teams when other clubs would be willing to use them in the majors.


Here’s how it works (with a little help from Wikipedia):


Players are eligible for the Rule 5 draft who are not on their team’s 40-man roster and:


A.  Were signed at age 19 or older and have been in the organization for 4 years or

B.  Were signed at age 18 or younger and have been in the organization for 5 years


The order of the draft is based on won/loss record from the previous season.  This year, Washington has the first pick, and the Red Sox will draft 28th.


Each draftee costs $50,000.  If he does not stay on the selecting team’s 25-man roster for an entire season, he must be offered back to his original club at half-price.


Organizations may also draft players from AA or lower to play for their AAA affiliates (for $12,000) and may draft players from A teams or lower to play for their AA affiliates (for $4,000).


The draftee also must be active for at least 90 days. This keeps teams from drafting players, then placing them on the disabled list for the majority of the season. For example, if a Rule 5 draftee was only active for 67 days in his first season with his new club, he must be active for an additional 23 games in his second season to satisfy the Rule 5 requirements.


Got all of that?


The most famous Rule 5 draft pick of all-time was Roberto Clemente who was drafted by the Pirates from the Brooklyn Dodgers.


Current major league stars who changed teams in the Rule 5 draft include Johan Santana, Josh Hamilton, and Dan Uggla.


The Red Sox have drafted a bunch of players over the years but really haven’t found a diamond in the rough (here’s Boston’s complete Rule 5 draft history courtesy of  Recent Rule 5 picks who spent time in Pawtucket include Adam Stern, Lenny DiNardo, and Tony Granadillo.


Of course, there’s also a good chance that the Red Sox will lose a player tomorrow.  Several websites have LHP Kris Johnson listed as a possible Rule 5 pick.  He struggled in 2009 going 3-16 between Pawtucket and Portland, but is a 25-year-old lefty with a good arm.


I look forward to seeing who comes and who goes on Thursday in the Rule 5 draft.


And if the Red Sox finalize a deal with Jason Bay . . . that would be OK too.


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