Major League Baseball's annual Winter Meetings are underway in Nashville. Generally, the meetings represent the most frenzied part of the offseason. That is, at least in part, because all the teams and agents are stuck together in the same hotel for a few days with nothing better to do than talk deals and avoid the hordes of job seekers roaming the premises.
As is tradition, the Winter Meetings will feature the Rule 5 Draft. This year's Rule 5 draft is set for 2 p.m. ET on Wednesday, Dec. 6. Below, CBS Sports has offered a one-stop shop to this year's event -- from explaining how it works and why it's in place, to providing the draft order, to highlighting past successes and some of the best players available in this year's class.
Let's get to it.
1. How does the Rule 5 Draft work?
Don't let the stuffy name mislead you: the mechanisms of the Rule 5 Draft are straightforward. Players are eligible for selection if they haven't been added to their team's 40-player rosters after a certain amount of years. (Four years for players who signed at 19 or older; five years for players who signed at 18 or younger.) Selecting teams have to pay a $100,000 fee to the player's original team. Yhey also have to pay another fee, in a sense, by keeping said player on their active roster all season if they wish to retain their rights.
Players chosen in the Rule 5 Draft are allowed to be traded -- oftentimes, those trades happen right away. Likewise, teams are permitted to trade for a player's rights, thereby sidestepping the aforementioned active roster requirement.
If a team selects a player and later decides they cannot keep them on the active roster all season, then that player is offered back to their original team for half of the original fee ($50,000).
2. Why is the Rule 5 Draft a thing?
Some form of the Rule 5 Draft has existed for more than a century. That shouldn't come as a surprise given that it serves two purposes: 1) to protect against teams hoarding talent; and 2) to give deserving players an opportunity for advancement, albeit with a different organization.
In recent years, it's become more trendy to question if the Rule 5 Draft should continue to exist. That inquiry is usually based on the premise that teams have gotten better at evaluation and roster management, thinning the Rule 5 Draft's talent pool. Some front office executives have offered a different take to CBS Sports, noting that being selected in the Rule 5 Draft often serves as a hindrance for a player since it disrupts their normal developmental arc.
Whatever the case, the Rule 5 Draft remains.
3. Who are some past successes?
If you're familiar with the Rule 5 Draft, it's probably because of the notable successes over the years.
Those include Roberto Clemente, Johan Santana, Shane Victorino, and Josh Hamilton. More recently, players like Ryan Pressly, Garrett Whitlock, Mark Canha, and Anthony Santander have been unearthed in the Rule 5.
Last year's class featured 15 selections during the big-league phase. Of those 15, seven stuck with their new organizations: Thaddeus Ward (Nationals), Ryan Noda (Athletics), José Hernández (Pirates), Blake Sabol (Giants), Mason Englert (Tigers), Kevin Kelly (Rays), and Wilking Rodriguez (Cardinals).
Englert and Rodriguez were injured all season; Sabol and Kelly, meanwhile, were acquired through trades.
4. What is the Rule 5 Draft order?
Unlike the amateur draft, the Rule 5's order is not decided by a lottery. It's simply the inverse order of the most recent season's winning percentage. In the event of a tie, the previous year's winning percentage decides the slot. (And so on and so forth in the case of additional ties).
That means this year's Rule 5 draft will feature a top five of the Oakland Athletics, Kansas City Royals, Colorado Rockies, Chicago White Sox, and Washington Nationals (who hold the tiebreaker over the St. Louis Cardinals).
Here's the complete order:
- Oakland Athletics
- Kansas City Royals
- Colorado Rockies
- Chicago White Sox
- Washington Nationals
- St. Louis Cardinals
- Los Angeles Angels
- New York Mets
- Pittsburgh Pirates
- Cleveland Guardians
- Detroit Tigers
- Boston Red Sox
- San Francisco Giants
- Cincinnati Reds
- San Diego Padres
- New York Yankees
- Chicago Cubs
- Miami Marlins
- Arizona Diamondbacks
- Minnesota Twins
- Seattle Mariners
- Toronto Blue Jays
- Texas Rangers
- Philadelphia Phillies
- Houston Astros
- Milwaukee Brewers
- Tampa Bay Rays
- Los Angeles Dodgers
- Baltimore Orioles
- Atlanta Braves
Do note that only teams with an open 40-player roster spot are allowed to make a selection.
5. Players to watch for this year
We've identified five players worth monitoring this year after asking scouts, analysts, and player-development types for their input on the matter.
1. Shane Drohan, LHP, Boston Red Sox
The Red Sox lost one near-ready arm last winter in Thaddeus Ward; they may lose another this go around in Drohan. The 24-year-old lefty split last season between the upper minors, dominating Double-A before scuffling in Triple-A. Overall, he accumulated a 5.05 ERA and a 1.79 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Drohan has a varied arsenal, including a pair of low-90s fastballs, a slider and a cutter, and a changeup that generated a 46% whiff rate after previously lagging behind his other offerings. The team that takes Drohan will likely envision him developing into a back-end starter. Our sources were mixed on his potential, however, with one pegging his upside as a multi-inning reliever.
2. Blaine Crim, INF, Texas Rangers
Crim has a lot working against him. He's older (he turned 26 in June), he's right-handed, and his best defensive position is "hitter." It certainly doesn't help his case that he's struggled during a winter-ball stint, either. Yet some evaluators identified him as a potential bench or platoon bat after a strong offensive showing in Triple-A. He hit .290/.385/.506 with 22 home runs and posted some impressive ball-tracking data. To wit, Crim's average exit velocity was over 90 mph, and he maxed out at 113 mph -- a figure that would have placed him in the top 70 or so at the big-league level.
3. Nasim Nuñez, INF, Miami Marlins
The two kinds of Rule 5 picks who are easiest to hide on a roster for a season are relievers and glove-first reserves. Nuñez, 23, fits in the latter bin. He's a rangy fielder with experience at both up-the-middle positions. Unfortunately, he's available because he's a wretched hitter. Nuñez, possessor of a career .644 OPS, offers zero power and a walk rate that's unlikely to transfer to the majors as a result. It's such a bad free-agent class for middle infielders that some teams might view Nuñez as a worthwhile addition to their bench.
4. Tanner Burns, RHP, Cleveland Guardians
Burns, a supplemental first-round pick out of Auburn University in 2020, has seen his stock slip mightily in recent years. Not only did he spend a second full season in Double-A, the Guardians also used him out of the bullpen down the stretch. Neither is what you want to see from an SEC product. Burns, 24, has a varied arsenal led by a rising low-90s fastball and a slider, and he has accumulated a career 3.37 ERA. His stuff is too light to be an impact reliever, suggesting that he's perhaps best suited in a swingman role.
5. Hudson Haskin, OF, Baltimore Orioles
Generally speaking, there are worse approaches in the Rule 5 Draft than picking someone from a loaded farm system and hoping for the best. That sentiment applies doubly to Haskin, who missed most of last season with various injuries. Haskin, 24, had previously profiled as a spare outfielder who makes up for his offensive shortcomings with speed and defense. A team who believes in him returning to full form could pick him to fill out their bench.