Nationals Arm Race

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Nats Rule 5 Protection decisions for 2011


Welcome to the 40-man roster this week, Mr. Norris. Photo Mark Zuckerman via Nationals

Each year, major league teams face decisions on which of their minor league players require protection by placing them on the 40-man roster.  The teeth of the rule5 draft have been removed somewhat from its original intent (designed to protect against wealthy and talent-rich teams from hoarding talent and preventing worthy major leaguers buried in the minor leagues) by virtue of a year’s extension on the time before players become eligible, and hence it is becoming rather rare that a rule-5 draftee actually sticks with the drafting team.

That being said, the Nats will have a number of decisions to make this week, when the deadline to add players to the 40-man roster ahead of December’s Rule 5 draft occurs.  Last year they added Chris Marrero, Cole Kimball, and Adam Carr.  In hindsight all three were probably worthy additions.  Adam Carr was released in September (surprisingly; the team probably could have snuck him onto the 60-day DL to start, and perhaps he would have accepted an assignment to AAA by virtue of his injury).  The team got lucky that Brad Meyers got hurt and, despite being rule5 eligible, was not selected as too high of a risk.

A number of the players that were clear locks to protect pre-rule 5 draft were called up during September roster expansion; so we don’t have to worry about whether or not the likes of Stephen Lombardozzi, Brad Peacock and Tommy Milone are going to be protected.

Using the Nats Draft Tracker xls as reference, here’s my thoughts on the 2011 rule5 draft;

Locks to Protect

  • Derek Norris; you never give up catcher depth.

Worth Protecting in my opinion

  • Tyler Moore; 2nd straight year of 30-homer production; could be a real hitting option for this team.
  • Brad Meyers (2010 eligible but now needing protection); he showed enough at AAA that someone would take a flier on him.  He’s not being mentioned as a 2012 rotation candidate right now, but he’s a valuable arm worth keeping.
  • Erik Komatsu: trade bounty for Jerry Hairston.  He’s another potential OF prospect that we wouldn’t want to give up.  And not protecting him would mean we gave up Hairston for nothing.

Maybes but Doubtful

  • Jeff Mandel (2010 eligible but now needing protection).  He’s the exact type of player that we really could lose, despite not being in any danger of getting drafted in 2010, by virtue of his MLB readiness and AAA experience.
  • Corey VanAllen: he’s been skipped over two drafts previously, but his up-and-coming performance plus his being left-handed may lead to someone taking a flier on him as a loogy.
  • Pat McCoy: for similar reasons to VanAllen, but slightly less so since he’s toiled in the lower-minors for a while.
  • Josh Smoker: nice pedigree, and obviously a valuable prospect to this team, but no experience above A-ball.

Not worth Protecting: Higley, Lozada, Guerrero, Curran, Demny, Souza, McGeary, McCoy, Arnold, and anyone else left that was 2010 rule5 or before (not too many of these guys).

Some of the guys in this list are obviously valuable prospects to this team (especially McGeary) but have zero shot of being drafted in the major league phase of the Rule 5 draft, by virtue of having no experience above A ball.

Luckily for the team, adding four names to the 40-man roster won’t require any other moves.  Once all 8 of our FAs were removed and the 60-day DL guys added back in, we stand at 35/40 on the 40-man.

Mark Zuckerman posted his own analysis on this topic today 11/15, and guessed Norris, Moore, Smoker and/or Komatsu.

13 Responses to 'Nats Rule 5 Protection decisions for 2011'

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  1. Agree with most, Todd. I would keep Mandel & VanAllen instead of Komatsu but these are minor quibbles.
    I think Doug Slaten is still on the 40-man, so that’s another spot.

    Mark L

    15 Nov 11 at 2:53 pm

  2. What about Sandy Leon?


    15 Nov 11 at 4:14 pm

  3. I’m not sure he’s rule 5 eligible yet. Signed in Jan 2007, that’s only 5 pro seasons. Depending on his age at signing I think we still have him under club minor league control for at least one more season, maybe two. I know he was in Zuckerman’s article … so maybe he is. Maybe my understanding of rule 5 eligibilty is wrong.

    Either way; i’d still say he’s not worth protecting; he was only playing at a high-A level this year, and his production at high-A wasn’t so amazing that he’d appear on someone’s radar. Remember, whoever gets rule5 drafted has to stick on the mlb 25 man roster all year … that’s a pretty large burden.

    Todd Boss

    15 Nov 11 at 4:37 pm

  4. Yeah; Mandel may very well get picked … but again, perhaps the team has seen something in him that says “org player.” He wasn’t called up last 9/1, so maybe his ceiling is AAA. VanAllen, by virtue of being teh lefty, may be worth protecting … but then again its a decision that has consequences. A guy being drafted in rule5 is a lot different than getting a guy off of waivers if we stick him on 40-man and then designate him.

    Komatsu you would think has to be protected; otherwise we traded Hairston for nothing.

    Here’s the next three guys off the 40-man: Slaten, Severino, Bernadina. After that tougher decisions.

    Todd Boss

    15 Nov 11 at 4:42 pm


    Yeah I was wrong. I was mixed up with rule5 versus minor league free agency. Rule 5 eligibility is basically 4 years in the org if signed after 19, or 5 years if signed at 18 or younger. So Leon has 5 pro seasons and is definitely eligible.

    I wonder if the Nats have all this information on players on a big white board somewhere … its awfully hard to track 🙂

    Todd Boss

    16 Nov 11 at 10:16 am

  6. […] more than enough to add in what I figured would be most of their off-season work (adding a few rule-5 eligible players and signing a few free […]

  7. […] predictions for protection included Moore and Norris, Komatsu and Meyers.  I would not be surprised in the least if Meyers […]

  8. […] add four players to the 40-man … but only two that I predicted.  More thoughts/opinions […]

  9. […] I opined here prior to the Nats failing to protect Komatsu, I thought he was worth protecting prior to last […]

  10. […] time in years, but had two players themselves taken.  Neither player drafted was a surprise; I posted at the time that I thought both these players should have been […]

  11. […] the same Rule 5 Protection analysis post for 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, […]

  12. […] time in years, but had two players themselves taken.  Neither player drafted was a surprise; I posted at the time that I thought both these players should have been […]

  13. […] 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. […]

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