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Friday December 10, 2010 5:56 am

MLB Rule 5 Draft comes and goes

Posted by Adrien Griffin Categories: Athletes, Drafts, MLB,

Josh HamiltonThe MLB Rule 5 Draft is a peculiar thing. Teams choose to not offer contracts to some of their free agents, saying they need to keep room on their 40-man rosters for the Rule 5 Draft, and then on draft day, they don’t fill up the empty slots, claiming they need to keep a few positions open to sign free agents before Spring Training. Thursday saw this year’s draft come and go to close the Winter Meetings, and as usual, nobody noticed.

The thing about this draft as opposed to the First-Year Player Draft held in summer that you know of (otherwise known as the Rule 4 Draft), is that players already have four or five years of professional experience, but are not good enough to exist on the 40-man roster. These players are put into a pool and teams can draft them as if they were free agents. The catch is that the team that drafts a player must buy the player from his original team and then keep that player on the active roster for the entire season. If they fail to do so, they must offer the original team the player back at half the price they paid for him.

It may sound like guys who are at risk of being swiped in the Rule 5 are those who don’t have what it takes to become top of the line major leaguers, and for the most part, that’s the case, but not always. Take Josh Hamilton, for example. He was picked up in the 2006 Rule 5 Draft and look where he is now. The same thing happened to Johan Santana in 1999, Joakim Soria in 2006, and Shane Victorino in 2002 and 2005.

Part of what the Rule 5 Draft does is to create some sense of activity on the final day of the Winter Meetings, but usually, people only care about the handful of major league deals that are reached during the first-half of the week, and that’s to be expected. Most of the draftees won’t become significant pieces of major league teams, so why bother getting to know them? But it’s still good to have. Like with Hamilton, clubs get one more chance to find a diamond in the rough.



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