Nationals Arm Race

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

Rule 5 protection analysis for 2015


Spencer Kieboom seems a likely Rule-5 addition this year. Photo via

Spencer Kieboom seems a likely Rule-5 addition this year. Photo via

We’re almost through the BBWAA awards; the next off-season deadline is one we talk about every year.  According to my handy Off-Season Baseball Calendar 2015-16, teams have until tomorrow 11/20/15 to add players ahead of the rule-5 draft (which occurs the last day of the winter meetings (this year, 12/10/15 in Nashville).

As always, using the indispensable Nationals resource sites Draft tracker and the Big Board, and then looking up candidate acquisitions made via trade, here’s some thoughts on who might merit protection.  The quick Rule-5 rules; any college-aged draftee from 2011 or before who isn’t already on the 40-man roster is Rule-5 eligible this coming off season, and any high-school aged draftee from 2010 or before is newly eligible this year.

Newly Eligible 2012 draft College Players this year worth consideration for protection:

  • Spencer Kieboom: no brainer to add; a catcher, getting noticed by scouts for his game-calling and defense, currently in the AFL.
  • Brian Rauh: decent season, but still just a  high-A/AA guy who had decent numbers this year.
  • Robert Orlan: only mentioned because he’s lefty, and the team protected a college guy last year (Matt Grace) almost entirely b/c he was lefty.
  • Ian Dickson: injured half the year, decent to ok in High-A this year, probably not a candidate to protect.

I’m leaving out the following guys who are eligible but are not really protection candidates: Stephen Perez, Craig Manuel, Robert Benincasa, Derek Self, and Ronald Pena.  For main reasons why, see my Statistical Review of the 2015 seasons of the 2012 draftees where I delve into each guy’s season and overall prospects at this point in their careers.

Newly Eligible 2011 High School-age drafted players under consideration for protection:

  • Deion Williams, who (as I noted in my Statistical Review of the 2015 seasons of the 2011 draftees post) i’m kind of surprised still has a job in the organization.  Not a protection candidate.
  • Chris Bostick: acquired in trade but originally a HS 2011 draftee.  Earned a mid-season promotion from High-A->AA, holding his own in the fall league in a probable Rule-5 consideration audition.

Newly Eligible 2011 signed IFAs under consideration for protection:

  • Pedro Severino was probably the #1 candidate to be added to the roster ahead of this coming Rule-5 draft before the team just went ahead and put him on the 40-man along with the 9/1/15 roster expansion guys.
  • Raudy Read: another up and coming IFA catcher who made his way to High-A this year, but may be a year too young to really consider protecting.
  • Jose Marmolejos-Diaz: Took Hagerstown by storm, definitely getting some notice by prospect mavens and likely viewed as a big part of the farm system.  Definitely needs protection.
  • Gilberto Mendez, part time closer for Harrisburg this year but is undersized and doesn’t have the K/9 rates you’d like to see.  But, given the dearth of RH relievers, maybe he’s worth protecting.

Not mentioned: a whole slew of 2011 IFA signings throughout the lower levels of the system.  Hector Sylvestre, Brian Mejia, Wilman Rodriguez, Anderson Martinez, Randy Encarnacion probably being the most notable/most accomplished in terms of advancement in the system.  None of them are Rule-5 protection candidates.

Minor League Free Agents of Note (this list is available at this link on BaseballAmerica).  These are either original draftees of the Nats who have now played in our org for 6 years, or guys who were MLFA signings from last year, or guys who are randomly FAs despite being recent draftees.

  • Jeff Howell: had pretty good success converting to the mound, moving up our system quickly in 2015.  Is he worth protecting?
  • Matt Purke: still can’t seem to solve AA, maybe its time to cut the cord.

Rule-5 Eligible hold-overs of note:

  • Matt Skole: I hold out hope that he returns to being the hitting force he once was for this team.  But he may have peaked in AAA.
  • Nicholas Lee: had a nice 2015, got sent to the AFL but has only gotten 4IP of work there.  Could pull a “Matt Grace” and get added surprisingly given that he’s a closer-quality lefty reliever, but then again this team now has a surplus of such guys.
  • Bryan Harper: see Lee but add a level: Harper was quite effective in AA and earned a late season promotion to AAA.  Worth protecting?

So, who would I protect?  As of today (after yesterday’s outright of David Carpenter), the team has 5 open slots on the 40-man roster to work with.

  • Locks: Kieboom, Bostick, Marmolejos-Diaz
  • Maybes: Read, Mendez, Lee, Harper

Thoughts?  Opinions?  Did I forget anyone and/or am I considering the wrong guys?  These IFAs are always iffy in terms of eligibility, and some of the MLFAs are confusing too in terms of their status.

Editor’s update; a mere hours after posting this, the team announced its protections and we were close.   They protected Kieboom, Bostick … and Nick Lee.   I guess I was being a bit optimistic on Marmolejos-Diaz; it is unlikely that a kid his age and having never played above Low-A would stick on a 25-man roster in this day and age.

For a fun trip down memory lane, here’s the same Rule 5 Protection analysis for 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, and 2010.

By year, here’s who I predicted we’d add and who we did add.  My “predictions” are kind of iffy, because in some cases I clearly hedged in the post and said something like “if it were me I’d add X,Y and Z but I think they’ll only add X and Y.”

  • 2015: Predicted Kieboom, Bostick, Marmolejos-Diaz.  Actual: Kieboom, Bostick, Lee
  • 2014: Predicted Cole, Skole, Goodwin.  Hedged on Grace, Martin and Difo.  Actual: Cole, Goodwin, Difo, Grace.
  • 2013: Predicted Solis as the only lock (Souza already added). Mentioned in order Barrett, Taylor, Grace, Holland.  Actual: Solis, Barrett, Taylor.
  • 2012: Predicted Karns and McCoy, with Hood and Rosenbaum as maybes.  Actual: Karns and Davis.  I think we were all surprised by Davis’ inclusion, despite his good AA numbers that year.
  • 2011: Predicted Norris as a lock, guessed strongly on Moore, Meyers and Komatsu.  Actual: Norris, Moore, Solano, Perez.    This was poor analysis on my part; I did not consider the IFAs newly eligible.
  • 2010: Predicted Marrero, Meyers and Mandel.  Actual: Marrero, Carr and Kimball.
  • 2009: pre-dates my blog and thus no predictions, but Actual was Jaime, Thompson and Severino.
  • 2008: I might be wrong, but I don’t see any evidence of the team protecting *anyone* prior to the Rule-5 draft.  A bit of an indictment of the farm system at the time, I’d say 🙂

23 Responses to 'Rule 5 protection analysis for 2015'

Subscribe to comments with RSS or TrackBack to 'Rule 5 protection analysis for 2015'.

  1. Nice writeup! I’ll toss in that, according to Luke Erickson over at Nats Prospects, Purke has already been declared a minor league free agent.

    John C.

    19 Nov 15 at 12:16 pm

  2. I was a little surprised at Carpenter’s DFA/release. I wonder if the medical reports were worse than expected.

    To me, the Rule 5 locks to add to the 40-man are Kieboom and Bostick, who has 16 HRs this year across A+/AA/AFL. Marmolejos-Diaz is a 1B who hit 11 HRs at A- after only eight total over four previous years. I can’t see him sticking on an MLB roster, and I’d probably leave him exposed.

    I’d probably think about protecting Skole over Marmolejos-Diaz. It would be hard for this organization to let any higher-level lefty power walk, and with some time now at AAA, there’s a better chance that Skole would be picked. I’m not jumping up and down about Skole, though, who still strikes out way too much and seems to be a lesser version of Clint Robinson.

    I can’t get excited about protecting Nick Lee or Bryan Harper. They’re not as good as Grace and Solis, who are still trying to prove that they’re MLB-worthy themselves. Lee or Harper might have an outside chance to stick if drafted, but with hundreds of relievers who’ll be on the draft board, the odds are slim that they’ll be taken.

    So I’ll say Kieboom, Bostick, and go out on a limb with Skole.


    19 Nov 15 at 12:45 pm

  3. Kieboom and Bostick for me too. No to Skole. He isn’t going to get a shot here; if someone will give him one, I’d let him go for it. I’d be more inclined to add a reliever, since they can shoot up out of nowhere and easily get stashed deep in someone’s bullpen.

    Anyone to drop? Is Goodwin still on there? If yes, I’d drop him. I’ve tossed in the towel on that one.


    19 Nov 15 at 12:51 pm

  4. Given that they dropped Carpenter yesterday, I have to think that they plan to keep a fair number of those guys. I believe they currently have 5 spots open plus will get another spot later when Barrett can go on the 60 Day.

    Kieboom and Bostick are definites. I think either J-M-D or Skole and either Lee or Harper so that we protect 4 guys in total.


    19 Nov 15 at 1:12 pm

  5. Yes, Goodwin is still on the 40-man, as are Erik Davis and Taylor Hill, so there is still plenty of space that could be cleared. They may also want to try to slip de los Santos through a DFA coming off his poor showing in AZ.

    In the course of the offseason, I would expect the Nats to add probably three or four relievers, one OF, and one INF via free agency or trade, so about six or seven more, so they need to have spots for them.


    19 Nov 15 at 1:22 pm

  6. Purke is definitely listed as a MLFA; I think i mentioned as much by putting him and that Howell guy. So they aren’t exactly like the other candidates here in that they’re not officially under team control as we speak so they’re not rule-5 candidates. I should just not mention them.

    Todd Boss

    19 Nov 15 at 1:27 pm

  7. There’s plenty of people who they could drop. They could easily drop three in my opinion: Erik Davis, Brian Goodwin and Tyler Moore. Moore is arb-eligible and I just have a hard time believing they’re going to tender him a contract at all, so why not just cut him loose now. I could be wrong.

    After those three, Rafael Martin, Taylor Hill and even Taylor Jordan could be the next three to go if need be. I love Martin like the next guy but he just didn’t look like he belonged in the majors after a while. Hill seems to me like a 4-A guy and Jordan is just insurance and he’s behind other guys in that role (Cole) at that.

    Todd Boss

    19 Nov 15 at 1:30 pm

  8. What about non-tendering Lobaton? Given that Severino and Kieboom are close and that finding a backup catcher is relatively easy…


    19 Nov 15 at 1:35 pm

  9. Oops, sorry, new computer… I’m the 2 Anonymous posters above. – andrew

    Andrew R

    19 Nov 15 at 1:36 pm

  10. Lobaton seems like he could be in danger, if the big club thinks Severino and/or Kieboom is really that close.

    Todd Boss

    19 Nov 15 at 1:58 pm

  11. I forgot to put this link into the post, but’s prospect team listed all their top prospects for each team that are exposed:

    For the nats, Kieboom, Skole, Bostick, Lee and Read.

    Todd Boss

    19 Nov 15 at 3:39 pm

  12. Keiboom, Bostick and Nick Lee added to 40 man.

    Harper unanimously wins MVP. Well, alrighty then.


    19 Nov 15 at 7:09 pm

  13. Well, good thing I banged out this post today b/c it would have been pretty dumb to post it tomorrow :-). Hit on the two big guys, missed on a lock but at least I mentioned Lee as a possibility. Good picks, they make sense in terms of what was likely to get plucked from the system.

    Todd Boss

    19 Nov 15 at 7:47 pm

  14. Yes Todd, great timing. Maybe Rizzo read the post and remembered that he needed to add some guys. 😉

    All three added were in the AZ Fall League. Adding Lee surprises me a little, simply because I didn’t think he would have been at much risk of being taken.

    There will be other moves, of course. I thought Jordan, Hill, and T-Mo should have been traded *last* offseason. All have lost some value now, Hill quite a bit. I do hope they can get something for Jordan and T-Mo, though.

    And congrats to Harper. I’m glad the writers showed some sense for once and made it unanimous. Rizzo, if you’re still reading, it’s time to get to work on that extension!


    19 Nov 15 at 8:10 pm

  15. I can’t take issue with who they chose to protect. “Orange” M-D is a first baseman in Low A ball–can’t see a guy like that sticking with a major league club that only has four non-catcher bench spots. If he rakes at Potomac next year like he did at Hagerstown he’ll definitely get protected next offseason.

    I also do not see the Nats going into next season with either Severino or Kieboom as the back up catcher as both are still pretty raw. If Lobaton gets cut loose, a free agent on a one year deal seems more likely while Severino plays at AAA and tries to prove that with his light bat he isn’t just Sandy Leon 2.0.

    Karl Kolchack

    19 Nov 15 at 8:23 pm

  16. I wasn’t that surprised with Lee. Relievers are easy to take a chance on, and pitchers in general seem able to make huge leaps from year to year.

    Jordan probably added value last year. Put up 100 innings at a good ERA in AAA, and even did acceptably in his brief major league spot if you look at FIP rather than ERA. I’ll bet they can get a middle reliever type for him, or use him to sweeten up a bigger deal.


    19 Nov 15 at 9:34 pm

  17. I really don’t think Severino and Kieboom are ready for the show yet. Both struggled at the plate in ’15. The projection with them is really for after Ramos walks next year (if he’s still here for ’16). If the Nats don’t try to upgrade from Ramos, I could see them looking at Navarro as an upgrade on Lobaton, who really struggled at the plate in ’15. Would Navarro be worth $6M per as a backup, though? Maybe not. Guess I’ll have to keep holding out for a Lucroy or Vogt deal.

    The Pirates seem to be dangling Neil Walker, not wanting to pay his arb price. I would think that the Nats would at least kick the tires on that one. One year of Walker shouldn’t be too steep of a price. Would he be that much of an upgrade on Escobar, though?

    As for Taylor Jordan, considering how bad the back ends of most MLB rotations are now, not to mention how cheap Jordan would be instead of signing a third-tier FA, there should be plenty of market for him. He just can’t attract a “prospect” price anymore.


    19 Nov 15 at 10:15 pm

  18. […] a fun trip down memory lane, here’s the same Rule 5 Protection analysis post for 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, and […]

  19. […] a fun trip down memory lane, here’s the same Rule 5 Protection analysis post for 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, […]

  20. […] fun trip down memory lane, here’s the same Rule 5 Protection analysis post for 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, […]

  21. […] down memory lane, here’s the same Rule 5 Protection analysis post for 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, […]

  22. […] posts I do. Here’s links to past years posts on this topic: 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010. We have managed to do this post every year, without fail, since the […]

  23. […] 2015: Predicted Kieboom, Bostick, Marmolejos-Diaz.  Actual: Kieboom, Bostick, Lee […]

Leave a Reply