Each winter, Major League Baseball’s Rule 5 Draft provides clubs the opportunity to pluck players from opposing franchises, provided they meet certain qualifications. Players who were signed at age 18 or younger must be put on a team’s 40-man roster within five years or risk being exposed to said draft, while players signed aged 19 and over must be added within four years to be ‘protected.’
Effectively, this is a built-in mechanism to keep franchises from stockpiling players in their minor leagues who would otherwise merit advancement, as well as giving the players involved a more robust chance to climb the professional ranks even if they were previously in a loaded minor league system.
The deadline to add players to the 40-man rosters for clubs was today, and the Cincinnati Reds chose to add three as a result. On top of that, they picked up (and added) a fourth in pitcher Brandon Bailey, who was acquired from the Houston Astros in a cash-trade.
The Reds announced the moves via Twitter.
The additions of Vladimir Gutierrez, Riley O’Brien, or Jared Solomon should not come as any surprise, as all three were expected adds. Gutierrez has struggled a bit in the upper minors but still possesses a very intriguing mix of pitches, while O’Brien was a mid-2020 add from the Tampa organization in exchange for Cody Reed. Solomon, meanwhile, seems like a bit less of a finished product for now, but is obviously someone the Reds are still quite high on.
As for Bailey, he’s a 26 year old righty who made his big league debut this year, but still also has a pair of options. He has mostly started in his minor league career and uses up to five different pitches. In a separate but parallel transaction, the Reds also picked up young righty Fredy Medina from Houston to complete the Brooks Raley claim/trade from earlier in 2020.
Considering the 40-man roster previously only had 32 players on it, this obviously leaves room for further moves by the Reds this winter. Whether that comes by signing free agents, making trades, or even by selecting unprotected players from other teams in the actual Rule 5 Draft, the Reds certainly will still have ample flexibility to continue augmenting their roster heading into 2021.
(Of course, there’s nothing keeping them from lopping any of the current players off the 40-man if needed, either.)
Congrats are in order to each of the players added today, as the addition to the 40-man roster does come with some very notable perks. They’ll get a guaranteed salary that’s much larger than the minimum weekly stipends earned by most minor leaguers - some $46,000 per year at least - and they’ll also now be eligible to be a part of the MLB Players Union.