The 2013 Major League Baseball Rule 5 draft begins Thursday morning at 9 AM Eastern time. We will be live-blogging it here at Minor League Ball starting at 8:30 Eastern, so stop by tomorrow for all the details as they happen.
For now, here is what you need to know:
PLAYERS: To be eligible for the major league Rule 5 draft, a player must be on a minor league roster, not on the major league 40-man roster. Players who sign at age 18 or younger are not eligible until after being in professional ball for five years. This includes the vast majority of players drafted out of North American high schools or signed out of Latin America. A player who signs at age 19 or older is eligible for selection after his fourth season in professional ball. This generally includes four year college draftees and most junior college draftees.
TEAMS: Obviously the selecting team must have a spot open on their own 40-man roster to make a selection. Each selection costs $50,000, sent from the selecting team to the player's original team. If a player does not stick on the selecting team's 25-man roster, he must be offered back to the original team for $25,000.
TRADES: Teams sometimes make trades involving Rule 5 players late in spring training if they want to keep the player but don't have enough room on the 25-man. It is also possible to make a Rule 5 pick then immediately trade the player to another team. This usually happens two or three times per draft. When a team picking later in the round wants a particular player but feels that there is a high risk of someone else choosing him first, they will often arrange a trade with someone picking early.
POTENTIAL INJURY LOOPHOLE: It is theoretically possible for a Rule 5 pick to suffer a convenient injury late in spring training, open the season on the disabled list, recover surprisingly slowly, make some minor league rehab appearances and get healthy just in time for the rosters to expand in September.
To keep the clubs from misusing the disabled list to hide someone, a player must spend 90 days on the major league active roster, although some teams pushed these limits in past years. MLB appears to be cracking down: the Phillies were recently awarded the first round Rule 5 slot (fourth overall) of the Chicago Cubs, as compensation for Chicago's handling of 2011 draft pick Lendy Castillo and a groin injury that sidelined him for half of the '12 season. He was active for 92 games but the Phillies filed a grievance over the suspicious timing and won.
WHY DO THIS?: The idea behind the Rule 5 draft is to prevent talented players from getting buried in the minor league system of an organization that doesn't have room for them in the majors. It also serves to give weaker clubs access to more talent, although the talent pool available in the draft is not as deep as it was before the eligibility rules were lengthened by a year in 2006.
Successful Rule 5 picks in past years include Johan Santana (drafted by the Twins from the Astros system in 1999), Joakim Soria (selected by the Royals from the Padres system in 2006), and Josh Hamilton (selected by the Cubs in 2006, then immediately sold to the Cincinnati Reds for $100,000).
1) Houston Astros (roster currently at 37)
2) Miami Marlins (roster currently at 40, would need to clear a spot)
3) Chicago White Sox (38)
4) Philadelphia Phillies (39, compensation for Lendy Castillo, see above)
5) Minnesota Twins (40)
6) Seattle Mariners (39)
7) Philadelphia Phillies (39)
8) Colorado Rockies (38)
9) Toronto Blue Jays (39)
10) New York Mets (37)
11) Milwaukee Brewers (40)
12) San Diego Padres (39)
13) San Francisco Giants (40)
14) Los Angeles Angels (38)
15) Arizona Diamondbacks (36)
16) Baltimore Orioles (38)
17) New York Yankees (40)
18) Kansas City Royals (39)
19) Washington Nationals (40)
20) Cincinnati Reds (39)
21) Texas Rangers (39)
22) Tampa Bay Rays (39)
23) Cleveland Indians (39)
24) Los Angeles Dodgers (35)
25) Detroit Tigers (40)
26) Pittsburgh Pirates (40)
27) Oakland Athletics (39)
28) Atlanta Braves (37)
29) Boston Red Sox (40)
30) St. Louis Cardinals (36)
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