It won’t look like it usually does, but the Rule 5 Draft will take place during this week’s Winter Meetings.
There won’t be a Major League phase since all Major League transactions are frozen until a new Collective Bargaining Agreement is in place, but the Minor League phase of the Rule 5 Draft will go on as scheduled. The event will take place on Wednesday at 2 p.m. ET, instead of its typical spot on Thursday, which traditionally marks the end of the Winter Meetings. And without all of Major League Baseball in one spot for the Winter Meetings this year, another change is that the event will be held via teleconference.
The Major League phase of this year’s Rule 5 Draft could be rescheduled for a later time after a new agreement is collectively bargained.
While the Major League phase -- where players who are not on a 40-man roster can be taken and given a shot to stick in the big leagues -- is where a more immediate return has historically been found (Josh Hamilton and Joakim Soria are two more recent examples of Rule 5 picks who became All-Stars), big league talent has been found throughout the phases of the Rule 5, even if those taken in the Minor League phase don’t always show up right away.
Last year’s Rule 5 was a particularly successful one, including several picks from the Minor League phase who made it to the big leagues – even one (the D-backs’ Tyler Gilbert) who threw a no-hitter.
How do the phases differ?
In the Major League phase, any player not on a 40-man roster who needed to be protected can be taken. For this year, international or high school Draft picks signed in 2017 -- assuming the player was 18 or younger as of June 8 of that year -- had to be protected. A college player taken in the 2018 Draft was in the same position.
For the Minor League phase, any player not protected on a 38-man Triple-A roster from that same group can be selected. Any team with a full 38-man Triple-A roster is not allowed to make a selection, but teams can make as many picks as they want until they get to 38 players.
That doesn’t mean, as it does in the Major League phase, that a player selected has to stick at that level. If a team takes a player in the Minor League phase, it costs $24,500, paid to the original team. The selecting team can then send its new player to any level in its system it chooses.
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