Tomorrow (Friday) marks the deadline for MLB clubs to set their rosters ahead of the annual Rule 5 Draft. Said draft, which usually takes place in the shuffle at the end of the busy Winter Meetings, will be virtual this year, as will be the entirety of those meetings that usually help define the entire offseason.
The entire premise of the draft, of course, is based on one clear tenet - teams shouldn’t be able to stockpile so much talent in their own systems that it keeps players who would otherwise be on the cusp of a big league opportunity blocked ad infinitum. Players who have been within an organization for a certain amount of time should either be given the chance to keep being promoted, or other clubs should be allowed to pluck them for their own systems, in essence keeping the competitive balance around the game intact.
The Athletic’s C. Trent Rosecrans discussed that in his breakdown of which minor leaguers the Cincinnati Reds will try to protect this year, a list that isn’t quite as star-studded as it has been in previous years. While there are some solid enough prospects in the mix to be added to the team’s open 40-man roster spots, there is no real ‘top prospect’ headlining the group the way that Nick Senzel, Jesse Winker, and the likes have done in recent years. That’s in large part due to Taylor Trammell having been moved in the Trevor Bauer deal a year and a half ago, really, but is also due largely to players like Tyler Stephenson and Jose Garcia having already forced their way onto the 40-man.
That doesn’t mean there aren’t a few interesting names in the mix. Highly touted gloveman Alfredo Rodriguez is eligible to be drafted in the Rule 5 if not added to the Reds roster, as are the likes of TJ Friedl and Vlad Gutierrez, each of whom brings their own unique set of talents to the table. All told, the Reds do have 8 spots open on their 40-man, so there’s the chance that they add a number of young players to protect them, but in doing so they a) reduce the number of open roster spots that could be used on free agents and/or trade acquisitions and b) reduce the number of players they, themselves, can select from the other 29 clubs in the Rule 5 should they see fit.
Here’s a list compiled by MLB.com of the top prospects in each organization that are eligible to be drafted in the Rule 5 should their clubs not protect them by tomorrow. The Draft itself will take place on December 10th.
In other news, former Red Brandon Dixon appears headed to Japan to keep plying his trade. Dixon, you’ll recall, was a part of the return the Reds received in the three-team Todd Frazier deal from a handful of seasons ago, and while he only spent limited time at the big league level with the Reds after being acquired, he did lead the Detroit Tigers with 15 dingers during their 2019 campaign.
Over at FanGraphs, Jay Jaffe takes a closer look at the Hall of Fame case of former Reds 3B Scott Rolen. Rolen’s in an interesting position this particular year in that this class doesn’t have a slam-dunk, 1st ballot star leading the way, and there’s a chance that might cast a bit more of a spotlight his way. He picked up votes on some ~35% of ballots a year ago, and while there’s no mandate that there must be a player elected each and every year, most BBWAA voters are still inclined to vote for the most qualified player on each ballot. This ballot has players with more career accomplishments than Rolen, though PED clouds surround many of the usual top names, something that was never an issue during his tremendous career.
Speaking of former Reds 3Bs, Miguel Cairo has latched on to whatever the hell the Chicago White Sox are doing this winter, and will serve as the club’s bench coach for the 2021 season. I sure hope the money’s good, as the decision to latch on to Tony La Russa at this stage smells like meat farts.
Those White Sox are still a damn competitive club, however, and as Jesse Rogers of ESPN relayed earlier today, they’ll tussle with Mike Trout and the Los Angeles Angels on April 4th in the first Sunday Night Baseball game of the 2021 season, should we all make it that far.
Finally, a simple Google search for ‘Trevor Bauer’ reveals that fans and writers representing pretty much every single sporting franchise that hath ever sported are fascinated by what the righty could bring to their team if signed this winter. I think it’s probably high time to start figuring out alternatives for how to spend the Reds money this winter. High-quality analysis, this.