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Rockies Winter Meetings recap, Day 4: Colorado exchanges infield depth for bullpen arms

Two players in, four players out for the Rockies organization on Thursday.

Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

The Winter Meetings wrapped up on Thursday with the Rockies making a few moves, all of which were necessitated by the team's participation in the Rule 5 Draft. After a slew of moves, Colorado at the end of the day found itself with a promising bullpen arm but without an infield depth option for 2015 and possible starting rotation member for 2016.

Here's a recap of what went down with the Rockies on the final day in San Diego:

Rockies select Mark Canha; lose Daniel Winkler, Taylor Featherston in Rule 5 Draft - Purple Row
We covered the Rockies' eventful few hours in the Rule 5 Draft. When it was all said and done, Colorado improved its bullpen depth -- House is still probably a year from the big leagues if everything goes well, but he's an intriguing arm nonetheless -- at the expense of Canha, who could end up being a nice complementary piece at first base for the Athletics. However, the Rockies lost a pair of players who could potentially be useful in the majors within the next season or two. Seeing Winkler go was particularly tough, Rockies general manager Jeff Bridich told Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post:

"We never want to lose our guys - ever," Bridich said. "But the way this thing is structured you are forced into taking calculated risks. We certainly value way more than 40 players, but this is where some of those calculated risks and tough decisions come in."

Winkler's situation with the Braves is going to be a strange and unique one because of his injury and when he might be able to return. Resident roster expert Sage Farron explains everything nicely:

First of all, it's important for people to understand that the disabled list counts as the active roster. Players on the MLB disabled list are still "active." They continue to gain MLB service time, they make their MLB salary. All players that are not receiving medical treatment or on rehab assignment are required to be in uniform with the MLB team alongside all other members of the active roster. So putting a Rule 5 player on the disabled list isn't a breach of the contract, as they have not been "removed" from the active roster. This system is in place to protect the claiming team when the selected player randomly breaks their leg or what have you.

However, there needs to be a check and balance for the players. It's not really "fair" to force a team to protect a player who won't play when they are going to be out for the entire season for certain. If the selected player underwent TJ surgery the day before the Rule 5 draft, under the definition of simply the active roster, the team could hoard the player on the 60-day DL and never have to deal with the constraints of Rule 5. That's why the 90-day rule exists.

Now, based on my research, my understanding of the situation in which a player is unable to stick for 90 days is this:

Taking into account that ...

- Rule 5 selections must always be on the active roster, and eligible to play for 90 days
- Players are subject to Rule 5 constraints during any season they have not yet totaled 90 days active, including while the season is ongoing
- Players only need to be returned in the case of removing them from the active roster

... it's implied that the 90 day total is CUMULATIVE, rather than relegated to one season.

In other words, here's how some situations would break down:

- Winkler gets 90+ days with the Braves in 2015. He is subject to Rule 5 constraints in 2015 only, as any normal pick.
- Winkler gets zero days with the Braves in 2015. He remains the Braves property, but the 90 day clock is empty in 2016 and constraints remain.
- Winkler gets 45 days on the active roster in 2015 and 45 days on the active roster in 2016. Despite not having 90 days in one season, Winkler is now free of Rule 5 constraints in 2017, but Rule 5 constraints apply the full duration of both 2015 and 2016.

Clear as mud?

The Rockies also added Phillies Triple-A reliever Kyle Simon and lost 2010 first rounder Peter Tago in the minor league phase of the Rule 5 festivities.

Rox happy with additions, have more to do |
The Rockies are still engaged in multiple discussions, according to Thomas Harding. Colorado might still land Dillon Gee from the Mets, though nothing is imminent. Talks are ongoing with the Marlins about Justin Morneau and the Rangers regarding Wilin Rosario, though neither situation is likely to amount to anything. One thing is for sure: it appears Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez will suit up for the Rockies in 2015.