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The Rule 5 draft won’t take place until the end of the MLB Winter Meetings in early December, but the deadline for teams to protect prospects from Rule 5 eligibility is fast approaching. Teams must add players to their 40-man rosters by Wednesday at 8:00 p.m. ET.
There are certain restrictions on which players and prospects are eligible; for example, Casey Mize and Matt Manning will not be added to the 40-man roster this week because neither is eligible to be selected in the Rule 5 draft. To brush up on the rules, check out Patrick’s excellent rundown we published on Tuesday.
Now, let’s get to the fun part.
This week’s question: Who should the Tigers add to their 40-man roster ahead of December’s Rule 5 draft?
Adam: Isaac Paredes, Daz Cameron, and Beau Burrows are all no-brainers. After those guys, however, it gets murky really quick. I worry a little about Anthony Castro, as he could pretty easily be stashed in a bullpen by another team and brought out to get his reps in mop-up duty. Because of that, I think I’d want to protect him as well. Kyle Funkhouser, on the other hand, I’m not quite as sure about, as I think there’s still a desire to keep him as a starter and being stashed away would be a severe detriment to his development.
Brady: Seconded on Paredes, Cameron, and Burrows. Castro could so easily be hidden by an MLB team in the bullpen because of the new 26-man rosters. Whichever team hypothetically picks him up can just use him on a wait-and-see basis from there. I still don’t know whether I would actually prefer to protect him or not, though.
Brandon: I think the extra roster spot might kill off the Rule 5 draft eventually. The talent pool was already shallow, and teams can now stash an extra borderline player on their 26-man roster. That makes it riskier to expose anyone talented, and also dilutes the pool of players exposed. Picking first helps, but it may be getting time to take a pass on the Rule 5 draft.
Paredes, Burrows, and Cameron all have to be protected. I wouldn’t like to see Derek Hill stashed by another team. Funkhouser and Castro aren’t likely to stick anywhere else, however, as the size of pitching staffs remains the same. The latter three players (Hill, Funkhouser, and Castro) wouldn’t be major losses, but there are a lot of players on the 25-man roster who I’d cut in their favor. There’s no real reason to expose anyone like them when you could cut Ronny Rodriguez, Brandon Dixon, etc.
The trend toward late FA signings may also mean it’s best to just hang onto your guys, and just shed them as you add elsewhere. There may be better guys available as teams make those tough free agent decisions in late January and early February.
Zane: I am going to assume the team will protect Paredes, Cameron, and Burrows. Any team would protect their top 10 prospects. I agree with Brandon — I don’t want to see Derek Hill go away just yet. I could see another team viewing him as a Victor Reyes-type project and forcing him onto their roster as a defensive replacement and possibly even getting him some at-bats next season. I don’t think the odds are high of that happening, but I worry about that a little bit more than Castro or Funkhouser. I would also cut guys such as Ronny Rodriguez or Brandon Dixon in favor of protecting those two, as well.
Patrick: I would protect Paredes, Burrows, Cameron, Funkhouser, and Elvin Rodriguez. Derek Hill, Anthony Castro, Jose Azocar, Jake Robson, and Cam Gibson would be unprotected. I base the decisions on what players have upside that we would hate to lose and the chances they would be taken by another team. The Tigers have the openings on the roster for these five players and one more to select another player. If they need another roster spot for real major leaguers from free agency or trades, they can cut Ronny Rodriguez, Harold Castro, and others.
Jay, with a lot to say: I’m torn between two lines of reasoning. On the one hand, the Tigers are mired in a rebuild, which means they should be protecting their prospects at all costs. These are the guys they have invested in to construct a legitimate team at the major league level. By that logic, they should be cutting dead weight from the 40-man roster and protecting anyone with any legitimate shot at making an impact in the majors.
On the other hand, I’d like to make the best use of the available roster spots to try to make some intelligent value signings and reclamation projects that can either stick around for the long haul if they work out, or be flipped to the deadline for a lottery ticket prospect or two. Of course, I’m not advocating for more re-treads on the roster, but guys who slip through the cracks of the market, minor league free agents that the team likes, Rule 5 selections, guys that have been non-tendered, or the like. The majority of minor leaguers never even make it to the major leagues, let alone make any significant contribution there, so the odds of any of these prospects actually hurting the Tigers, outside of Paredes, is very small.
Rob: The Tigers currently have seven available spots on their 40-man roster and plenty of players already there that could easily be cut after the fact, so I wouldn’t mind seeing the Tigers fill up their 40-man roster for the time being. Protect Paredes, Cameron, Burrows, Funkhouser, Castro, Hill, and a lottery ticket like Carlos Guzman or Elvin Rodriguez. If the Tigers find a Rule 5 guy they like, or decide to sign any free agents in between now and the Rule 5 draft, they can cut someone else — plenty of names have already been mentioned in this thread — to make room.
Jay again: In the end, I think I’d stick with my second plan and protect Isaac Paredes, Daz Cameron, and one of Anthony Castro or Beau Burrows. I think the dark horse to be selected by another team is Wilkel Hernández. There always seems to be a team that snags a young pitcher from the low minors with projectable stuff in a good frame. For example, the Blue Jays took Elvis Luciano out of rookie ball last year. Hernández has a similar profile, but again, the odds of a plan to hide him for a season and then resume his development as a starter in the minors actually working out is very low. I can see logic behind protecting any of Hill, Rodriguez, Hernández, Funkhouser, Robson, Castro, and Burrows. I really don’t see any point in protecting Jose Azocar, Cam Gibson, or Carlos Guzman. If another team wants to take a shot any these guys, they can go right ahead.