After talking about 2015 payroll projections and then 2015 options analysis, and coming to the conclusion that:
- We’re payroll heavy and might see some shedding this off-season, and
- Our 40-man is full and we have a ton of guys without options.
Thus, the next logical step is to talk about who might get shed off the 40-man roster in order to protect incoming players ahead of the Rule 5 draft.
This post is a bit earlier than we normally do it; Teams have until 11/19/14 to add players ahead of the rule-5 draft (which occurs the last day of the winter meetings (this year, 12/11/14 in San Diego). All these dates and more are on the off-season Baseball Calendar for 2014-15. But, because we’re talking about it, lets get into the analysis.
As always, using the indispensable Nationals resource sites Draft tracker and the Big Board, and then giving some thought to prospect acquisitions made via trade, here’s some thoughts. 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 2011 draft College Players this year worth consideration for protection:
- Brian Goodwin: Supp-1st round pick from 2011, paid like an upper 1st rounder, who has been a continual presence on top-100 prospect lists but who hit just .219 in AAA this year, didn’t play after July 1st, and has been clearly passed on the organizational OF depth chart by both Steven Souza and Michael Taylor. Do the Nats protect their $3M bonus investment and find room for Goodwin on the 40-man? I think they do.
- Matt Skole, 5th rounder who blasted his way into the Nats minor league hitter of the year in 2012, then suffered a freak injury in the 2nd game of the year in 2013, costing him a whole season. His OPS dropped more than 200 points from 2012 in 2014. He’s almost a 3-true outcomes kind of hitter (good power, a TON of strikeouts but a lot of walks). I’m in agreement with others; because of his lefty power and a distinct lack of lefty power elsewhere, I feel like he’s a potential future contributor. I’ve always liked Skole and hope we don’t lose him in a rule-5 gambit.
There’s a whole slew of guys who were college draftees in 2011 who are still in the system. No one else has even matriculated to AAA yet, and some are still in high-A. The one name that sticks out as someone who “should” be in this conversation is 2011 4th rounder Kylin Turnbull. But no one else on this list merits any discussion for protection at this point.
Newly Eligible 2010 High School-age drafted players under consideration for protection:
- Just one: A.J. Cole. Who, it goes without saying, is a lock to get added. In fact, there was only one other HS draftee in that entire 2010 class who signed; Robbie Ray.
Newly Eligible IFAs under consideration for protection (signed in 2010)
- Wilmer Difo: just named MVP of the South Atlantic league, occupies a position of weakness in the system. But would someone grab a guy from Low-A and expect to keep them on the 25-man roster all year?
A couple of other 2010 IFAs who sometimes pop up here: Wander Suero, Wirkin Estevez.
Minor League Free Agents of Note (it isn’t live yet, but this list will be at this link on BaseballAmerica eventually). These are original draftees of the Nats who have now played in our org for 6 years. They are basically guys who were drafted in 2008 and who have not yet been released or added to the 40-man. Or they’re MLFA signings from last year.
- Rafael Martin: frequently discussed here. Great numbers in AAA this year. Already 30. Not a rule-5 issue necessarily, but a jeopardy to sign elsewhere.
- Destin Hood: 2nd round pick in 2008. So much promise, finally posted decent numbers in 2014. Strategically, if you were Hood would you re-sign here though? He’s at least 7th on the OF depth chart by now.
- The whole Syracuse rotation: McGregor, Espino, Laffey and Lively. Along with Delcarmen, Stange and Runion. My initial impression is that the team’s going to have more than enough pitching to fill Syracuse’s rotation from those that aren’t going to make the MLB rotation (Cole, Jordan, Hill and Treinen to start, then throw in Rivero and maybe even Solis). So the starters likely are gone; maybe we could use some more MLFA relievers though.
The only other 2008 draftees still hanging around are Jose Lozada and Paul Demny. I’m guessing neither signs with us for 2015.
Rule-5 Eligible hold-overs of note:
- Matthew Grace: had an excellent year in AAA, as discussed many times here. Worth protecting?
- Neil Holland: a decent year between AA and AAA; he does not seem a jeopardy to get picked so the team can hold onto him for one more year before he hits MLFA.
Did I miss anyone? I hope not.
So, who would I protect? I would protect Cole and Skole for sure. I would highly recommend protecting Goodwin.
Past that, I’d roll the dice. I like Grace and Martin, enough that I’d like to see how they look in the spring, but perhaps not enough to drop someone else. I like Hood; maybe they try to re-sign him. I think Difo is important, but they’ll risk not adding him since he’s only played at low-A.
They’re already looking at dumping 2-3 people to cover the above names; any more and you’re really digging deep, even withstanding the whole “7 guys are out of options” discussion we just had.
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.”
- 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