Despite what you might have heard, the Rule 5 Draft is happening. Today. Minus the headline act. Once, my brother and I attended a club with the intent of seeing the featured act. They were unable to attend, and someone else filled in ably. So it goes, sometimes. A the saying goes, the show must go on. Here is a relatively brief look at the minor league phase of the Rule 5 Draft, which begins at 1 p.m. CT, the time of this post.
Lost in the rancor of the lockout is how important it seems to owners to allow a completely incompetent person to own a team and still make money. Otherwise, there would be little reason for the minor league phase of the Rule 5 Draft. Even if a complete fool is owning the team, he has terribly outdated ideas, and has only a borderline adequate baseball operations guy, money can be made. Let the other teams develop talent, and wait until December, and poach the other teams’ talent. For instance, the year Larry Dierker signed his first pro deal (1962), the Cubs signed six players to initial contracts. Six. The Cubs didn’t care, or try to represent that they did, but still made enough money to not go kaput.
Fortunately, now, the Cubs are more aggressive in player development. Despite what some would have you believe, Jed Hoyer’s budget from Tom Ricketts is above those of the lowest spending teams. The South Bend Cubs had all the toys from Edgertronic to Rapsodo, and the other one escaping my memory. Investments are being made, and more players will be added internationally next month.
However, the December Draft is about letting players go from one team that undervalues them to another for a low five-figure fee. In the minor-league phase, there are no onerous stipulations on retaining talent. Pay the fee, and he’s yours. The Cubs have about 80 guys eligible. Probably 10 of them, they’d rather not lose today. Those would be the ones they likely might lose.
With executives added from Cleveland and Tampa Bay, I would be entirely unsurprised if the Cubs leave two open spots (the specifics are minded as tightly on this as traveling in an NBA game, these days). We’ll find out when in jumps, but I’d guess two players leaving and two others being added. I’m unwilling to wager a red M&M on my guess, there.
Some players will be “permitted” to be selected, as a low-five figure fee is probably their peak trade return. Sometimes, players lost in the minor-league phase (like Justin Bour, about a decade ago) keep getting better, making it look like a bad call. However, decisions are based on current information.
With the Cubs selecting seventh, a name or two of real interest (to the executives, if not us) will likely still be on the board. Once the December Draft is done, teams can get about putting together their most useful 190 players (which will be reduced to 180 once the season starts). For the Cubs, may that mean three teams in Mesa when it’s really hot and disgusting in Mesa. Once the draft is done, a few players may be released to make room for a few more high priority needs.
Perhaps an upper-level catcher to replace Miguel Amaya, who won’t be playing this year.