2017 Rule 5 may be a ho-hummer for the Astros


Major League Baseball will hold its annual Rule 5 draft this Thursday and unlike other years this one may be a ho-ho-hummer for the Houston Astros. Without getting too detailed here – the Rule 5 draft allows a minor league player to be picked by another major league club, if they have spent either four or five years in the minors, depending on their age when they were drafted. The kicker is that the drafting club has to keep the player drafted on the 25 man major league roster for the full season or offer them back to the original club at half the $50,000 they paid for the player’s rights.

A number of famous players have found a new club and success through the Rule 5 including Josh Hamilton and Astros’ farmhand Johan Santana, who was drafted by the Marlins and then immediately traded to the Twins, where he had great success (after minimal impact in his first “required” year in the back of the Twins’ bullpen). More recently the Astros lost Delino Deshields Jr. to the Rangers in the Rule 5 and in Jeff Luhnow’s first action in his new job, he traded for Marwin Gonzalez, who the Red Sox had drafted from the Cubs for him.

The important thing for the big club is that any players they want to protect that are eligible for the Rule 5, must be on the 40 man roster ahead of the draft. Three weeks ago, the Astros put two of their eligible pitchers, Dean Deetz and Cuban Cionel Perez on the 40 man and traded OF Ramon Laureano (who was eligible) to the A’s. There are 18 Astros farmhands in AA or above, who are eligible for the draft, including OF Jon Kemmer and pitchers, Akeem Bostick, Kent Emmanuel, Mike Hauschild, Brendan McCurry and Cy Sneed.  It will be interesting to see if anyone goes after one or more (up to three) of the Astro eligible, especially since many of them were not that good last season or may be getting too old to be considered top prospects.

Out in the world here are some of the top Rule 5 players eligible:

  • Mark Appel. RHP. Yes that Mark Appel. Just like with the Astros, he never put it together with the Phillies farm teams.
  • Kohl Stewart. RHP. Fourth overall draft choice in 2013, has been good when healthy, but has not been healthy enough to get above AA
  • Burch Smith. RHP. Missed two seasons after TJ surgery, but showed some flashes at AAA and in the AFL  in 2017
  • Mason McCullough. RHP. A Matt Albers type body with a big sinking fastball and a penchant for walking a lot of batters
  • Cale Coshow. RHP. A 100 mph guy who may be a bit  blocked in the Yankees system
  • Victor Reyes. OF. High batting average, high-speed, no power guy
  • Nick Ciuffo. C. Likely future backup catcher in the majors

It is hard to see where the Astros really have any room for a Rule 5 guy on the 25 man roster for a whole season. Usually these players are available for a reason and the Astros are in the middle of a win it all window.

It is much more likely that the Astros lose a player than pick a player on Thursday.

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61 comments on “2017 Rule 5 may be a ho-hummer for the Astros

  1. Dan, because so many teams are supposedly “rebuilding”, I could see all of the top candidates being gone before the Astros even get a chance to pick.

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    • I agree. I think the most likely scenario, if Luhnow covets one of these guys, would be for the Astros to convince a team picking high in the draft to trade the rights to a player to them. The same rules apply afterwards – the Astros would need to keep them on the 25 man roster all year or sell back to the original team – but this happens a few times each draft.

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  2. I have to agree op – the only possible chance is if they value some pitcher out there that think can be in the back end of the bullpen, but even then I just don’t see a valuable one available when they pick and the team actually wanting to tie up a spot on someone. If they could hid him away on the DL……Nah

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  3. I am not saying that this could or would happen, but what if someone in this analytics driven front office were to notice something outstandingly significant in a pitcher in this Rule 5 draft. Let’s say it’s a pitcher with one good pitch but another pitch they haven’t mastered and that pitch has killed them in the minors.
    What if the analytics guy took his findings to another guy and they went to their pitching guy and the pitching guy saw what was holding the prospect back, let’s say it’s a flaw in the way he threw the pitch based on his arm angle in his delivery?
    The team might draft the guy and bring him to spring training, work with him and see if they can fix him.
    Worst case scenario is that you lose $25k when you return him or maybe you work a trade to keep him.
    I don’t know, I’m just conforming to the topic here. But my team is the best team in baseball and right now I think they are magicians. So, there!

    Liked by 2 people

    • OP – A couple thoughts here:
      1) I’ve always wondered why teams did not take more chances on Rule 5 – I mean yes I know that there is certainly value to the 40 man spots, but there always seems to be some head-scratcher like Andrew Aplin on there. The $25 K at risk is tip money these days at the major league level.
      2) What you are describing makes me think of the Charlie Morton situation. Here’s a guy who had crummy numbers in the majors overall – 4.54 ERA/1.411 WHIP and had averaged 94 innings due to injuries over the last 5 years. They saw something with the small sample in 2016 (17.3 IP) where he upped his velocity and changed his approach and decided they were going to give him $14 million over two years and get him to be an even better pitcher here – and a guy who had a career -0.8 WAR coming into to 2017 – put up a 1.8 WAR, who had a career 46-71 record put up a 14-7 W-L and was on the mound putting his foot on the Dodger’s collective throats in Game 7 of the WS.
      This is baseball alchemy. Our nerds are going to get burnt at the stake…..

      Liked by 2 people

      • Dan, I wonder on #1 if there is a bit of strategy involved by not picking guys. Unless you feel a guy has a chance to stick with your roster, getting a look at him in spring training costs you a) innings/at bats from guys in your system b) the return fee and c) good will with the other GM whom you may wish to work a trade at a later date.

        Regarding Morton, consider that if a pitcher goes out and throws four shutout innings in every start, then alternates giving up 2R or 3R in the fifth inning of every start, his ERA is 4.50. We’ve seen lots of guys fit this profile – Chris Holt, Tim Redding, and Brad Peacock are a few. The key is finding something that gets them through that second time the order comes to bat.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. The NYY just traded Chase Headley Lamarr and Brian Mitchell to the Padres for a case of wine. That frees up more money for the Yankees to improve themselves with at least two big acquisitions.
    Look for a big deal to go down in the coming days for the Yankees.

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    • It would not surprise me if New York goes after Todd Frazier as a free agent and then trades for a good young starter with several years of control left.
      For the Yankees, the only acceptable option for them is winning the WS in 2018. They might even be thinking bigger, when it comes to 3B.

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    • You meant Chase Hedy Lamarr right? “That’s Headley”

      I miss Harvey Korman – favorite quote from Blazing Saddles – “You will merely be risking your lives, whilst I will be risking an almost-certain Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor.”

      Liked by 2 people

      • Humor is always good Dan. Especially from a classic like Blazing Saddles. A movie that nobody would dare make now because it is so politically incorrect. Pretty soon it will be illegal to laugh.
        But I always liked Slim Pickens line at the toll booth. “Has anybody got a dime? Better go back to town and get a $%#&load of dimes.”
        Dr Strangelove, Airport, Young Frankenstein,. Those were the Classics.
        Now back to our regularly scheduled Chipalatta blog, already in progress.

        Liked by 2 people

      • One more time. If you want to bust a gut, watch some of the excerpts form the Carol Burnett show with Tim Conway and Harvey Korman. Or look at some of the Dave Chapel show. Hilarious!

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    • Did you see the stories that MLB plans to heavily investigate every last angle of the Ohtani to LAA signing for impropriety? I would *hope* they will also investigate all of these NYY deals, but doubt they would do so to a flagship team.

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      • Yeah reading about it – it sounds like they were going to do this no matter who won the sweepstakes with him. They warned the teams ahead of time that they could not do any wink-wink “we’ll give you a $200 million contract in two years” or no “go see this guy at Nike and your $25 million a year deal is just a signature away”. All they were allowed to do was to promote the team and city culture and pluses – you know you pay a bunch more state taxes in California, but we make up for it by having your mansion threatened by wildfires every other year.

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  5. I gave you a lower grade than usual on this blog post. It’s because of the very uncomfortable feeling I got from the word hummer, which is pronounced “Humber”. It was just too hard to get past the thoughts that come with that name. I hope you understand. TY.

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    • Well then you are going to have to put up with my trivia fact for the day. In 2008, Johan Santana was traded from the Twins to the Mets for 4 players including two with infamous Astro connections……Carlos Gomez and ……..Phillip Humber. Humber. Humber. Humber…..If I am going to get graded down I am going to deserve it.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. Thought this was interesting – in the blog post featured above….
    https://chipalatta.com/2015/11/14/rule-5-astros-top-10-minor-leaguers-to-consider/
    I listed as the top 10 minor leaguers to protect from the Rule 5 back in the draft after the 2015 season….
    Joe Musgrove
    Chris Devenski
    Jandel Gustave
    Tyler Heinemann
    Mike Hauschild
    Jordan Jankowski
    Andrew Aplin
    Danry Vasquez
    David Paulino
    Teoscar Hernandez
    Of those 10 – they only protected Musgrove, Gustave and Paulino, and if I’m looking at the right list – we picked no one and no one picked up one of our players.
    We could have lost Devenski right there.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Oh yeah, I remember that well, was thinking the same thing about Mr Bostick lol

        The cool part is, if you go to his Baseball reference page, it has a link to this blog

        Liked by 1 person

    • Blocking in baseball has become very fluid.
      You can’t block the plate, unless you do five other things before you do it.
      You can block 2B without getting a leg broken.
      You can block pitches in the dirt in your contract year.
      You can’t block shots from Roughned Odor, if you play for the Blue Jays.
      You don’t block pitches in the dirt if you want to get picked up by the Rangers on waivers.
      You don’t block Mike Scioscia from his camera shot.
      You do block Jose Altuve above the knees if you are Jimmy Paredes.
      You avoid the downtown block party if you are marrying Kate Upton.
      You do block Colin Moran, AJ reed and Tyler White if your nickname is “La Pina”.
      Let’s just say that there is more blocking in baseball than in a Texans game.

      Liked by 3 people

      • Speaking of Jimmy Paredes, apparently he has been out of baseball for a year. Unless he’s playng overseas and i just don’t know about it , he’s pretty much done at 27. Crazy.

        I had to look up “La Pina”…didn’t realize it was Spanish for pineapple. I think Dodger fans think it’s Spanish for something else lol

        Liked by 1 person

      • According to Wikipedia – Jimmy P is over in Japan…

        On January 5, 2017, Paredes signed a one-year, $1.2 million contract with the Chiba Lotte Marines of Nippon Professional Baseball.

        Paredes signed a one-year, $800,000 contract with the Doosan Bears on December 1, 2017

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      • I may be “mis-remembering” Billy C, but I feel like the minors was so bereft of talent they had to scoop those 3 out of AA to help the big club.

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  7. Roberto Clemente was a Rule 5 pick for the Pirates. That worked out.
    Marwin Gonzalez was a Rule 5 pick who won a WS ring for the team that drafted him.
    Besides Marwin and Clemente, I wonder how many Rule 5 picks won a WS ring with the team that drafted him.

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    • That’s a fun question! The first that popped to mind was Shane Victorino. The interesting thing about him is that he was picked by SD in the 2002 Rule V draft, but only made it 36 games before being returned to the Dodgers. He then was selected again in the 2004 Rule V draft by the Phillies. He didn’t stick with the club, but the Dodgers declined the option to receive him back so he stayed in the Phillies’ system. He was a key part of the 2008 team that there that won the World Series. (Citation – info taken from Wikipedia)

      Liked by 1 person

    • I had trouble finding lists of players chosen before 1997. Here are the three guys I found who won the World Series with the team that picked them:

      Roberto Clemente – 1954 by PIT from Brooklyn. Won WS in PIT in 1960 and 1971. Was WS MVP in 1971.

      Manny Trillo – 1969 by Oakland from PHI. Played for the A’s in 1973 and 1974, but did not appear in any WS games. Had one at bat in 1974 ALCS. Returned to Philly later in his career and was NLCS MVP against HOU in 1980…a year where they won the WS.

      Hector Rondon – 2012 by Cubs from Indians. Won WS with Cubs in 2016 against Indians. Rondon pitched in one win against CLE.

      Here are two more I thought picks I thought were interesting:
      Travis Blackley 2008 by Phillies from SF. Offered back to SF, but they declined. He spent all year at AAA, but the Phillies won the WS that year. He was granted free agency that winter.

      Joakim Soria – 2006 by KC from SD. Left KC after five years. Returned to KC in 2016…the year after they won the WS.

      Liked by 2 people

  8. Read on MLB TRADE RUMORS, that the arlington little league is “looking” at Zack Greinke….HA! HA! HA! HA!!!! Hope they robbed a bank to pay him!! LOL!

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  9. One thing I just read that must be a change – clubs pay $100K for rule 5 players and would offer them back at $50K if they don’t want to protect them all year on the 40 man.
    These are double the old numbers but still chump change.

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  10. Last night on AT&T Sportsnet – I was watching a couple of their Bases Loaded segments and really enjoying them.
    A couple things stood out:
    Jeff Luhnow was talking about the playoffs and that once they got there his job was basically done and he was like a fan at that point. He had very similar feelings that we all felt.
    – In the 4th game against Boston in the ALCS, when Benintendi hit the home run off Verlander he thought – oh no, not another game 4 loss like what happened in the ALCS against KC in 2015
    – After the Yankees swept the 3 in NY to put them up 3-2 – he was really worried with the momentum and all
    – When the Astros were losing late in Game 2, he was worried again, and he thought the rally against Jansen and Marwin’s HR were so huge

    Reid Ryan talked about how it was such a big thing for his dad to sign back here in Houston – they were growing up here, but he was playing elsewhere. Talked about how Alvin had a parade after the signing. Talked about the big heartaches in 1980 and 1986 and since he was owning a minor league affiliate later, the heartache in the late 90’s and early 00’s.

    It was great to hear these baseball insiders talking like Joe Blow fans with the same kind of anxiety and thoughts that we have here.

    Liked by 3 people

    • This is kinda what I was talking about for writer’s block. Behind-the-scenes, human interest, personal profiles, whatever you call it. But if you could really research and bring to light new information, then I guess you’d be on somebody’s payroll, right? Do you get access to players or management because of what you do? Never heard you say so.

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    • This is interesting. Harper would be a free agent at 26. I imagine Boras would like to get him a deal like Stanton got in Miami. The problem is that would make him a free agent again at 36, unless he got the opt out clause and chose it. I suspect there are two things happening here. First, Boras wants to make Harper a free agent at about 28. This would allow a big contract where Harper could opt out at age 31 or 32 and still be in line for a contract like what Pujols got from LAA, but updated for value relative to other players in the league. Second, Boras doesn’t want teams saving their money for a run at next year. He wants to get Harper (and himself paid now) as well as getting some of his other clients signed to multi-year deals now.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Marlins send Ozuna to the Cardinals. And then – according to mlbtraderumors – the Marlins are either interested or not interested in trading Yellich….depending on whose tweets you want to believe.

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    • Has been a very successful reliever over the years. Had a great WHIP. Faced well over 200 batters in 2017 and had zero wild pitches , zero balks and walked only 10 batters all year. Gave up less hits than innings pitched.

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  12. The Astros have reached an agreement with Joe Smith, a sidearm soft throwing reliever who had a great year in 2017 with Toronto and Cleveland, who acquired him at the deadline.
    He pitched very well in 4 appearances against the Yankees in the ALDS.
    He has excellent control with 71 Ks and 10 BBs in 54 innings this year. His out pitch is a very nasty slider that gets right handed batters out.
    Smith’s deal is for two years. No money details yet

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  13. Joe Smith is interesting……doesn’t throw that hard, but gets a lot of swings and misses. I just wish he was a lefty!! And no…..I don’t want to “settle” for Francisco Llariano thank you very much. I’m still dreaming of Chris Archer in a Astros uniform!! A girl can dream can’t I ?!!!

    Liked by 2 people

  14. JL is a genius. Brought in Kate Upton and now Allie Laforce. Julia Morales has some great interviews coming.

    On a serious note, I saw the story of Joe Smith having a 50-50 chance of Huntington Disease. We so often forget the human side of sports.

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