Taylor's Twins Talk

Focusing on the Twins, with a few ramblings on other things that catch my attention

Friday, December 12, 2008

Rule 5 Thoughts

A little later than promised, here are my thoughts on this year's Rule 5 Draft:

The Losses

It seemed coming in like there were a number of players who the Twins could lose, but by adding so many players to the 40-man roster in November the Twins were able to take most of the most susceptible players off the board. As a result, the Twins lost three players overall -- not a great number, but not terrible either.

The sole Twin taken in the Major League phase of the draft was 24-year-old Dominican Jose Lugo, a lefty reliever with a middling career ERA but excellent K-BB numbers -- last year he struck out 76 and walked just 33 in 69 innings, and he's consistently shown that those numbers are about what can be expected from him (at least at the minor league level). The Royals drafted Lugo and then sent him to the Mariners, so for the second year in a row the Mariners will have a Rule 5 draftee who needs to stick on the big league roster or be offered back to the Twins. Last year, you may recall, the Mariners unexpectedly took recent signee R.A. Dickey from the Twins, and when they couldn't find room for him on the big league roster they worked out a trade that netted the Twins catcher Jair Fernandez. I would expect something similar to happen again this year, since Lugo is seemingly nowhere near ready for the major leagues -- he spent last year in High A Ft. Myers, and it's an awfully big jump from there to the big show.

The Twins also lost two players in the AAA phase of the draft, meaning they won't be coming back. First up is righty reliever David Shinskie, a 24-year-old Pennsylvanian who has been in the organization since he was drafted in the 4th round of the 2003 draft. Shinskie's 2008 was limited by injury, but he had a very solid 2007 season (3.36 ERA in 64.1 innings).

Finally, infielder Juan Sanchez was also taken in the AAA phase, heading to the Brewers. Sanchez was initially signed as a free agent in 2004, but didn't get to the US until 2008, where he hit .314 in 137 AB's with the GCL Twins. While those are nice numbers, it's hard to feel the loss of a guy who wasn't that well known in the organization.

The Gains

The Twins picked up two players yesterday as well. Jason Jones, a right-handed starter out of the Yankee organization, was first up. He was a fourth round draft pick back in 2004, and has risen fairly steadily through the organization. He's already 26, so it's getting to the time where he'll need to take the next step. He'll get that chance this spring with the Twins, where the word is he'll be thrown into the bullpen mix and given a chance to earn a spot on the big league roster. Jones is not completely unfamiliar with a relief role, but he's been used far more often as a starter to this point -- he has 104 starts against just 20 relief apperances. His K-BB numbers are excellent, although he's not an overpowering pitcher as evidenced by his K/9 numbers. At this point, I don't expect him to make the roster (so he may be on his way back to the Yankees at some point), but anything is possible if he has a solid spring and there are injuries or disappointments involving other players.

Finally, the Twins selected righty reliever Henry Arias from the Reds in the AAA phase of yesterday's draft. Picks below the major league phase rarely pan out to much, but remember that a couple of years ago the Twins selected Brian Buscher from the Giants at this level, and he's now spent some reasonable time in the big leagues. In other words, unexpected things can happen. Count me a bit underwhelmed by the soon-to-be 24-year-old Arias -- he has ok K-BB and K/9 numbers, but his ERA and WHIP have generally not been that great (although he spent the first part of last year in A-ball with the Royals and actually pitched reasonably well). Ultimately, there's just not enough information on Arias to know whether he's worth much. With a AAA phase rule 5 pick, though, there's not much to lose -- so I look forward to seeing how he performs once the season starts.

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  • At Fri Dec 12, 10:30:00 PM , Blogger Jeremy said...

    Looks like Wigginton might just be our 3B after all.

    Who's going to go to make room for him? Korecky?

  • At Fri Dec 12, 10:55:00 PM , Blogger JST said...


    Just curious about your source on this -- I haven't seen anything that suggests this has gone anywhere beyond the rumor phase so far. If it did happen, I suspect the piece going back to the Astros would already be on the 40-man, making it unnecessary to remove someone. Maybe they're interested in someone like Bonser as one piece of a potential deal?

  • At Fri Dec 12, 11:47:00 PM , Blogger JST said...


    I just realized that Wigginton was non-tendered, so that's presumably where your question is coming from. I suppose Korecky would make sense, but I would prefer to remove a catcher -- either Butera or Morales. Five catchers is too many for a 40-man roster, in my opinion, so I'd probably take Butera off the list even though he'd likely be lost to a waiver claim.

  • At Sat Dec 13, 09:05:00 AM , Blogger Jeremy said...

    I saw he was non-tendered and figured the Twins would make a play on him.

    I also read that the players that were just recently added to the 40-man can't be removed until March (or somewhere around there), so Butera would not be eligible to be removed.

    I guess Morales would be an option; leaving Butera to serve as the 3rd catcher. I just think Korecky might make it through waivers; doubtful a catcher would.

  • At Sat Dec 13, 10:32:00 AM , Blogger JST said...

    Jeremy - interesting; I didn't know that recently added players couldn't be removed before March. Do you remember where you read that? It certainly does limit the Twins options with making additions to the roster if that's the case!

  • At Sat Dec 13, 03:06:00 PM , Blogger Jeremy said...

    I want to say I read it on Seth's page.. possibly in the comments after Butera was added..?

  • At Sat Dec 13, 04:16:00 PM , Blogger JST said...


    I've been looking in as many places as I can think to look for a definitive answer. What I found was a very good summary of Rule 10 of the Major League Rules (not the ones that have to do with the rules of play, which are made public, but the ones which have to do with transactions and which are not publicly available -- hence the summary).

    If a player (say Butera) were to be removed from the 40-man roster, it would be through outright waivers. There are all sorts of restrictions on waivers (including a provision that you can't waive anybody between October 10 and November 10 except for the purposes of releasing them, etc). I didn't find anything that stated a player in Butera's condition (added to the roster in November) couldn't be placed on waivers until March -- but that doesn't mean it's not there.

    One interesting thing I did find is that a Rule 5 selection can't be placed on waivers of any kind until 25 days before opening day, so Jason Jones is stuck on the roster until March. Perhaps this is the source of the information that you read -- maybe someone had the info slightly wrong?

    I will continue to see if I can find an answer to this question. Based on what I read, I am not convinced right now that Butera (or the other November additions to the roster) couldn't be removed if the Twins wanted to do so. If someone has evidence that contradicts me, I'd be more than happy to look at it.

  • At Sat Dec 13, 05:19:00 PM , Blogger Jeremy said...

    This is what I read:

    If the Twins signed Casey Blake and wanted to drop someone from the 40 man roster, it would be pretty obvious to drop Macri, since he would be quite redundant as a right-handed hitter that can play the corner infield spots. Ruiz would be the other option as he’s basically a pinch hitter from the right side of the plate.

    Butera is not a waiver candidate. I learned yesterday that players added to the 40 man roster now can not be taken off of waivers until at least Spring Training.

    Comment by Seth | November 20, 2008

    I guess I don't know for certain what that means.

  • At Sat Dec 13, 06:10:00 PM , Blogger JST said...


    Ok, I think I've figured out what's going on here. Looking at rule 10, outright waivers after September 1 are specifically authorized, but the team must specify it is requesting outright waivers (presumably as opposed to release waivers). If no claim is made, the player can be assigned to the minors.

    However, there's a clause discussing the "effective period" of waivers, and it seems to say that waivers granted after November 11 are are effective until February 15 (the start of Spring Training, generally). I don't know whether this means that a player could claim Butera at any time in that window or if there's some other meaning.

    I hesitate to say it because it's not often true, but I don't think Seth is correct on the implications of the rule. I don't think anything would prevent Butera from being placed ON waivers (his comment did say they can't be taken OFF of waivers until the 15th, so we may just be misunderstanding what he was saying). His analysis that Butera isn't a waiver candidate may be based on other factors as well, such as the Twins not wanting to remove him from the roster, which is certainly possible.

    So, my bottom line analysis from everything I've seen and read, is that nothing would prevent a player from being outrighted from the 40-man roster despite just being added in November.

  • At Sat Dec 13, 06:11:00 PM , Blogger JST said...

    Obviously, I meant to say "whether a TEAM could claim Butera," not whether a player could do so. While I think that's obvious, I wanted to clarify.

  • At Sat Dec 13, 09:30:00 PM , Blogger Jeremy said...

    It's all probably a moot point. How often do the Twins sign wanted FAs?

    I would imagine I read into Seth's quote wrong. You can waive a guy, but he isn't off waivers til February. Just like you said.

    Regardless, I think the Twins added him for a reason - justified or not - and chances are better he'd be picked up off waivers than if he had been exposed in the Rule 5 draft. That's why I don't think they'd let him go.

    Looking at their roster, I just have a hard time believing Korecky is going to stick. He's 29 already and, in my opinion, doesn't offer a lot of upside.

    I understand your argument about the catchers, right now they basically have two emergency catchers, but looking ahead to 2010, Redmond may not be around and Ramos probably won't be ready. And you'd want to have 3 guys right? That may not look good for Christy or Soto to be added, but isn't having catching depth a great thing? I'm not defending the addition of Butera, because that move surprised me, just trying to make sense of it...

    Thanks for clearing things up.

  • At Sat Dec 13, 09:33:00 PM , Blogger Jeremy said...

    On a completely different note, I saw the names Jared Hemus and Jeff Schoenbacher listed as Rule 5 eligible this year. I found them listed on Baseball Reference, but they didn't appear in the Twins' information guide from last year. Do you know what's up with them?


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