Nationals Arm Race

"… the reason you win or lose is darn near always the same – pitching.” — Earl Weaver

Rule 5 fallout: placeholder for arguing


Welcome to the 40-man roster. Photo AP

Welcome to the 40-man roster. Photo AP

The 11/20/14 deadline for adding players to the 40-man roster ahead of the Rule-5 draft has come and gone.  Jonathan Mayo at posted an excellent overview of each team’s top 20 prospects under consideration for protection, which could also be a nice shopping list for some team looking to roll the dice.

Our Nats went and protected many more players than I thought hey would.  So maybe there’s not much room for us to argue about who should and shouldn’t have been protected.

Here’s who we protected: A.J. Cole, Brian Goodwin, Wilmer Difo, Matt Grace

And here’s notables who we did not protect: Matt Skole and maybe Drew Vettleson.

My reaction?  Slightly surprised they went with four players.  No arguments about the value of Difo, just wondering if he realistically could have stuck on a 25-man roster spot all year.  No arguments about the players they dumped to make room (Pedro Florimon and Ryan Mattheus); most of us questioned why they were even still on the roster given the lack of options and slim chances of making the Nats 25-man roster next spring.  Slightly surprised they decided to risk losing Skole, if only because of his proven capabilities.  Otherwise, for prospect hounds, this was a good day.

Post-posting update: MLB’s Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo each posted their thoughts on the best players left unavailable.  And Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper posted his list of top rule-5 eligible players.  Cooper mentions Skole in passing but not as a top 10 player.

Written by Todd Boss

November 21st, 2014 at 8:25 am

14 Responses to 'Rule 5 fallout: placeholder for arguing'

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  1. I don’t understand losing Skole and keeping a guy like Leon or Davis instead. They must really not think much of Skole, which is sad, because we can use a lefty corner infielder in a bad way.

    Andrew R

    21 Nov 14 at 8:48 am

  2. In looking through Mayo’s list, Skole was one of only a couple of guys from the organizational top 10s who weren’t protected, so he will be one of the highest-profile guys available. If someone takes him, it might actually be a good opportunity for Skole. He will be 26 next season. It’s getting to be now or never for him. As much as we like him and hope he stays and makes it, his one and only shining season thus far was at low A.

    Teams that might have looked at Skole, however, as of yesterday now have the option of Ike Davis, only two years older than Skole, released by the Pirates (to sign Florimon??? Huh?). Davis will also be a low-cost alternative on the market to ALR, perhaps for teams like the Marlins who are currently low-balling LaRoche. I briefly scratched my head over the thought of Davis joining the Nats bench. I wouldn’t hate it, but his lack of positional flexibility would be a hindrance, and one would think that he’s looking for a place where he could be a starter.

    It’s hard to think that a team in championship mode like the Nats would think about making a Rule 5 pick, but one unprotected guy does intrigue me a little: Delino DeShields Jr. of the Astros, the #8 overall pick in 2010. He’s spent most of his time at 2B, but they switched him to OF last year because of Altuve. In addition to the position switch, he suffered a terrible beaning last season, so there are some mitigating circumstances to his stalling out. But the dude can FLY: 101 SBs in 2012 alone. He’s also had good OBP numbers for a young player. As the son of a long-time player, he also wouldn’t be intimidated by a MLB clubhouse. Could the Nats afford to carry him as a PR and situational guy? I doubt it. But for a team with so little middle infield help in the pipeline, he’s intriguing.


    21 Nov 14 at 9:13 am

  3. The Nats are far removed at this point from stashing someone on their roster all year. That’s the good news.
    Skole was always intriguing but he backslid last year and he’s blocked by a multitude of players at 1B.
    I wish him luck.

    Mark L

    21 Nov 14 at 9:17 am

  4. Andrew: completely agree. Davis is #1 now on my list of “first names to go” off the 40-man roster to make room. It’ll be doubly curious if he gets dumped in a month so that the team can sign someone.

    In fact, to that point … notice how the team has left no room on the roster for the time being? That says to me they’re planning on trading guys off this roster in order to add others, as opposed to doing rule-5 pickups or waiver claims for the time being. Because yeah, otherwise why keep an option-less player to expose Skole?

    Todd Boss

    21 Nov 14 at 9:22 am

  5. Erik Davis still has two options. Next to go, among those with no options, likely would be Leon, who has no chance to be on the MLB roster. Those who marginally do are T-Mo and Cedeno, although as I noted last night, Grace might be Cedeno’s worst nightmare. T-Mo might still have some trade value, but Cedeno would have very little without options.

    I had the same thought yesterday – the 40-man is full, and they didn’t make a place for Skole, so they’re probably thinking trade(s) if they clear some space. I would guess that Det would be #1 on that potential hit parade, but you never know.

    I did find it curious that even after they had cleared the two 40-man spots last week, they waited until the last minute to add Cole, the obvious no-brainer. Makes you wonder if they had some trade inquiries about him in the meantime.


    21 Nov 14 at 9:31 am

  6. Skole’s two main points for: hitter of the year two years removed, and provides lefty power.

    But yeah, completely blocked by Rendon at 3B and Zimmerman at 1B. And Harper in LF. Its tough being a corner player; you have to really hit your way to the top.

    Todd Boss

    21 Nov 14 at 9:44 am

  7. After McLouth went down last season, the Nats were really casting about for a LH bat for the bench. (Remember Greg Dobbs?) That would have been a great opportunity for Skole, but he just wasn’t ready (and Goodwin was hurt). In 2012, under similar circumstances, Tyler Moore seized the chance and has been able to remain in the MLB conversation ever since. Chris Marrero missed that 2012 chance, was passed by Moore, and got released a year later.

    It all gets back to what Wally was saying a few days ago. For the guys who aren’t Harper or Stras, it’s a tough slog. You might only have one real opportunity, and if you miss it, it might not come around again. I mentioned Brandon Larson a couple of days ago. He was the opening-day 3B for the Reds in 2003, but he got hurt, and he never got another real chance.


    21 Nov 14 at 10:03 am

  8. The moves by the team make perfectly good sense. They protected all the players that were strong candidates to be taken. Skole’s step back since his injury at the beginning of the 2013 season, combined with his limited skill set make him unlikely to be selected at all, much less kept through an entire season. The ship hasn’t sailed on Skole completely, or on Vettleson, but it’s at the pier and getting up steam.

    It doesn’t surprise me that they kept Leon and Moore even though neither has options – those guys are insurance in case a catcher or Zimmerman gets hurt, and unless they get a trade offer the team will keep them right up until Opening Day. Because Cedeno is in the mix for a bullpen spot they won’t move him until they have to, either.

    John C.

    21 Nov 14 at 10:55 am

  9. Vettleson is two years younger for Skole and actually out-slugged him last year, so I wouldn’t put Drew at the departure window just yet. At the same time, he’s nowhere near MLB quality yet, either, and far down the OF pecking order. Another average season will get him labeled “organization depth.”

    As for Skole, let’s look at the numbers. He slugged only .399 in 2014 at AA and hit only 14 HRs, while turning 25. At 25, T-Mo slugged .634 at AAA and got called up, after hitting 31 HRs in back-to-back years. Skole’s only MiLB stop where he has slugged over .500 was at Hagerstown during his magic season. I know he was coming back from injury last season, and I know he looks like Big Puma, but at some point, we have to stop projecting power and say he is what he is.

    As for T-Mo, his numbers last year took a disturbing Corey Brown-like turn, as he lost 178 points off his AAA OPS, 150 of that off of SLG. Right now, I would have Souza penciled as the stopgap at 1B, not Moore. I’m not sure what the future holds for Moore, but I don’t think it is in a Nats uniform.


    21 Nov 14 at 11:57 am

  10. I wrote my T-Mo thoughts before seeing Cameron’s piece:

    Thanks for the help, Dave! Rizzo give you a percentage of the two minor-league arms we’ll get in return.


    21 Nov 14 at 1:34 pm

  11. […] Skole, Goodwin.  Hedged on Grace, Martin and Difo.  Actual: Cole, Goodwin, Difo, […]

  12. […] Skole, Goodwin.  Hedged on Grace, Martin and Difo.  Actual: Cole, Goodwin, Difo, […]

  13. […] Skole, Goodwin.  Hedged on Grace, Martin and Difo.  Actual: Cole, Goodwin, Difo, […]

  14. […] Skole, Goodwin.  Hedged on Grace, Martin and Difo.  Actual: Cole, Goodwin, Difo, […]

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