Each December Major League Baseball holds the Rule 5 draft at the end of the Winter Meetings. It was designed to keep Major League teams from hoarding talent in the minors without allowing those players reach the Majors. Players with a certain amount of service time that aren’t on the 40-man roster can be selected by other teams and kept as long as they remain on the selecting teams 25-man roster all season.

What makes someone eligible?

There are a few different things that could make a player eligible for the Rule 5 draft if they are not on the 40-man roster. The first two are very easy. If a player is 18-years-old or younger on June 5th in the year in which they sign, then they will be eligible for the Rule 5 draft for the 5th Rule 5 draft after that. That would mean players who were 18 or younger that signed in 2013 eligible for the first time this year. Players who are older than 18-years-old on June 5th of the year in which they signed are eligible for the 4th Rule 5 draft after that. That would make players that were 19 and signed in 2014 eligible this year for the first time.

Usually this breaks down to high schoolers and college players. High school draftees from 2013 are now eligible for the first time. College draftees from 2013 were first eligible last season, which makes college draftees from 2014 now eligible. But, it’s not always that easy. Two Reds examples would be Narciso Crook and Gavin LaValley. Crook was drafted out of a junior college at 17 in 2013. Unlike other college players drafted that year, because of his age, he is just now becoming eligible. LaValley was drafted in 2014 out of high school, but he was 19.

Where things can get trickier is with free agent signings. Depending on when the player signs depends on whether or not the year in which they sign makes them eligible or not. If a player signs after the minor league season is over, then that year does not count for a “Rule 5 draft” year and thus the player gets the next four or five Rule 5 drafts until they are eligible.

What happens with selected players?

If a player is selected, the selecting team must keep that player on the 25-man roster all season long in order to retain their services. The player can not be sent to the minors other than on a rehab assignment from injury. If the team no longer wants to keep the player on the 25-man roster then they must be offered back to the original team the player was selected from. A player must also have at least 90-days on the active roster in one season. If that number isn’t met due to injury, then the player must complete that 90-day term the following season (cumulative – it does not require 90 days in a given season). After the initial year with the selecting team, a player can then be optioned back-and-forth between the Major and Minor Leagues without being offered back.

To select a player it costs $100,000 to acquire the player. If the player is sent back at any point, and accepted by the team he was selected from, they would then return half of that money to the team that selected the player. Teams can, and sometimes do work out trades if the selecting team would like to keep a player, but decides they can no longer keep them on the 40-man roster.

Which Cincinnati Reds prospects are eligible this year?

The quick idea here is that anyone drafted in 2013 or earlier is eligible. College players, and Gavin LaValley, from the 2014 draft are also eligible. That’s the easy part. The tougher part is figuring out the free agent signings that are eligible. I’ve included all of the eligible players in the list below that were drafted. I have not included international, or free agent signings that have not yet played in full-season baseball on this list. The list below is only for players who are eligible for the first time.

Name  Pos 
Alex Blandino SS
Brennan Bernardino LHP
Brian Hunter RHP
Brian O’Grady 1B
Chad Tromp C
Cory Thompson RHP
Evan Mitchell RHP
Gabriel Ovalle INF
Garrett Boulware C
Gavin LaValley 1B
Hector Vargas SS
Jake Ehret RHP
Jake Paulson RHP
Jarrett Freeland C
Jesus Reyes RHP
Josciel Veras SS
Jose Lopez RHP
Jose Siri OF
Josh VanMeter INF/OF
Michael Beltre OF
Morgan Lofstrom C
Narciso Crook RF
Nick Howard RHP
Nick Longhi 1B/OF
Reydel Medina OF
Sandy Lugo RHP
Seth Varner LHP
Shed Long 2B
Taylor Sparks 3B
Tejay Antone RHP
Ty Boyles LHP
Wyatt Strahan RHP

Now, just because someone isn’t first year eligible does not mean that they won’t be taken. There are several players eligible for a second time that have a chance at being selected. Here are a few of the names that jumped out to me as guys who could possibly be selected from this group:

Name Pos
Jose Adames RHP
Brandon Dixon INF/OF
Sebastian Elizalde OF
Tyler Goeddel OF
Zack Weiss RHP

What’s coming up?

In the upcoming weeks I will break things down further. The deadline to protect players this year in November 20th. That is less than six weeks from today. I will break down things by position, sort of. I’m going to group together infielders, outfielders, starters, and relievers. Within each break down we will look at who is likely to be protected from there, and why.


26 Responses

  1. HavaKlu

    Joe Hudson should be on this list also.
    In my opinion it’s easy to determine who should be protected:
    *Beltre might have an outside chance by someone like the Padres
    Anyone else does not have much chance of being selected or, if they were, would not be any great loss—e.g. Dixon and Goeddell

      • HavaKlu

        They will after they drop Arroyo, Feldman, Storen, Cozart, Wallach, Adleman, Wallach and Kivlehan

    • Doug Gray

      Hudson is not eligible for the first time this year. He’s been eligible for the previous two years. And I don’t think he falls into the “could be taken” category of guys that have been eligible in the past.

  2. Brandon

    Doug, thanks for the write up. A friend and I were just taking about the rule 5 draft and whether or not the 90 “active” on the 25 man roster was cumulative or over multiple seasons. The conversation was trigger by a sports agent we know saying the 90 days resets for the next season of an injured player and is not cumulative. There are conflicting articles on the web, but my understanding was what you posted in this article. There’s no other stipulation for meeting the 90 active days is there?

  3. James K

    I see you have listed each player’s original position. Cory Thompson is now a pitcher, LaValley plays 1B, and Shed Long plays 2B.

    • Doug Gray

      That’s my fault – I’ll fix it. That was the position listed when drafted. I paid attention to fixing the names (for example – Shedric Long to Shed Long). I guess I needed to pay MORE attention. Thanks James.

  4. Norwood Nate

    Lopez, Long, Weiss, Siri, and Blandino are no brained to me. Reyes, LaValley, Goeddel and Mitchell would be in my next group but it would be difficult to determine who else should removed from the roster after the obvious two in Vincej and Wallach.

    Who the Reds add will tell us a lot about who they’re expecting to contribute soon.

    • DaveCT

      I think we wil need to have Longhi in there, too, somewhere. He was a very highly regarded hitter with the Sox, of a bit redundant with us. I can’t remember what his injury was, but that may not preclude him being selected and stashed somewhere.

      • Doug Gray

        The chances that Garrett loses his 40-man roster spot are the same as my chances of walking outside right now and finding $10,000 in singles stacked in the front seat of my car. Sure, it’s possible, but it is insanely unlikely.

      • Doug Gray

        I just went to my car. Unfortunately there was not a stack of cash in the front seat….

    • Doug Gray

      As far as I can tell he has not been released. He was listed in the 2017 Media Guide, so he definitely wasn’t released in 2016. He’s also listed as active on his MiLB.com page.

    • Krozley

      This is on Sullivan’s page on baseballamerica.com.

      • Selected by Reds in 29th round of 2014 draft; signed June 9, 2014
      • Released by Reds, March 16, 2017.

      • Doug Gray

        Well I’m going to blame MiLB.com for not having it on their transactions page. Jerks.

  5. Bill

    I see six players as likely to be dropped from the 40-man roster once the season is over: free agents Cozart, Arroyo, Feldman, and Storen; plus Adleman (performance) and Wallach (don’t need a 4th catcher).

    That takes the roster to 35 and accommodates Nate’s five no-brainers: Lopez, Long, Blandino, Siri and Weiss.

    For the next group on the 40-man roster, the Red’s have to weigh the likelihood of the player being claimed once DFA. Shackleford and McGuire are older players/marginal prospects, but finished the year strong. Kivlehan, a replacement level bench player, has already been outrighted once and will have the option to elect free agency if DFA again. Brice battled injuries this year, but has a nice arm and looked good when healthy. Could trade return headliners such as Rookie Davis or Dilson Herrera be vulnerable–both have battled injuries but underperformed? Good arguments for and against each player can be made. Vincej is likely safe as long as the Reds lack clarity at SS.

    Back to the prospects, I think LaValley and Longhi are likely left off the 40-man. Primarily playing 1B, both would bring little value as bench pieces to a major league team in 2018 due to their lack of versatility and speed. Wouldn’t LaValley be on the Red’s AFL team if they were going to protect him? Also, Longhi is also coming off an injury adding additional risk. As pitchers, the Reds will have to decide if they like Mitchell or Reyes better than the players currently on the 40-man. A breakout season in the AFL may also bring other players into the discussion.

  6. MK

    Is Jose Adames their Minor League Rule 5 pick last year still in the organization and available in the draft.

    • Kinsm

      Yes and yes. He would have qualified as a minor league free agent after the world series ends but he’s already inked a new minor league deal with the Reds.

  7. Nick

    Doug you have Mark Armstrong listed, but on his player page on MILB.com it says he retired September 27th. I would imagine it has to be injury related he flashed decent stuff.

  8. Michael B. Green

    Hope you didn’t do the homework for teams looking to snag players from the Reds, Doug. :) Great article!

  9. Jeremy

    Stock would have to be re-signed by the Reds before the Rule 5 draft for him to then be taken by another team in the Rule 5 draft. Pretty sure he will become a free agent 5 days after the completion of the World Series.

    • Doug Gray

      While true – I’m listing everyone in the organization as it stands today because the team can add that player to the 40-man if they want to keep them and avoid them from entering free agency. They did this last year with Ariel Hernandez, for example.