Last week, the Rockies outrighted four players off their 40-man roster: Brooks Brown, Simon Castro, Gonzalez Germen, and Michael McKenry. They did this because they needed to clear space on their overcrowded player catalog (more on this in a moment).
When a player is outrighted, it means their name is immediately removed from the 40 man roster. From there, they have to pass through waivers in which the other 29 teams get a shot to acquire them. Then, if they're not claimed by another team through that process, they can then be sent to the minors without taking up space on the 40-man roster. Brooks Brown however was claimed by the Dodgers, so the Rockies had to hand him over to their division rival instead of being able to stash him on their Triple-A Albuquerque roster.
In addition to Brown's departure from the franchise, the Rockies also lost Michael McKenry. McKenry wasn't claimed by another team like Brown, but he does have more than three years of service time, meaning he can refuse to go to the minors if outrighted and elect to become a free agent. Not surprisingly, he chose the latter option.
Grateful for 2 seasons back with the team who got this baseball journey started. All the best to my teammates & Rockies fans! #freeagent— Michael McKenry (@theFortMcKenry) October 15, 2015
The Rockies had to boot these players off their 40-man roster because they have baseball's version of an over population problem.
Entering last week, the club had a completely full 40-man, and six more players on the 60-Day Disabled List. This is significant because five days after the conclusion of the World Series, the 60-Day DL no longer exists (until next season of course). In other words, the players on the 60-Day DL have to be moved to the 40-man roster, which - surprise, surprise - isn't allowed to have more than 40 names on it during the off season.
So of the 46 combined names on the 40-man roster and 60-day DL entering last week, six of them have to be removed by the end of the World Series. Four were taken care of last week (mentioned above), and the other two should be Kyle Kendrick and Justin Morneau. Kendrick will become a free agent as soon as the World Series ends, and the club is likely going to decline their end of Justin Morneau's 2016 option, also making him a free agent.
Just so we're all up to speed here, I'm going to list all 46 names on the roster entering last week and bold the six who were either outrighted or are very likely to become free agents. The 40 names below who are NOT bolded are likely going to be the 40 names left on the 40-man roster once the off season truly begins. The following list was made possible by the awesome site rockiesroster.com:
Starting Pitchers (8)
Jorge De La Rosa
Relief Pitchers (15)
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The roster crunch does not end here however. Unlike other seasons where the Rockies either had more free agents, more retirements, or just fewer names coming off the 60-Day DL, the Rockies will begin this off season with a full 40 names on the 40-man roster. This will leave them in a position where they're unable to pick up players on waivers from other teams until they trim more of the fat. More importantly however, it means they absolutely have to remove more of these players from their roster by the reserve deadline (usually around November 20th).
The reserve deadline is the last date teams can protect players in the minors they want to shield from being scooped up by other teams in the Rule 5 Draft which is generally held during the last day of the winter meetings in December. Any minor leaguer not on the 40-man roster who has been with their club for five years if they were signed before they were 18, or four years if they were signed after they were 18 is fair game in this draft. The only way to protect these players from being poached by other teams is to add them to the 40 man roster.
Knowing this, let's take a look at the list of players eligible for the Rule 5 Draft this December and see who the Rockies need to protect:
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There's your list. I see three names that absolutely need to be protected here under any circumstance and then a few others who are interesting cases. Instead of me just making my list however and then making this a 2,500 word article with who needs to be knocked off the 40-man as a result, I'd like to open things up to the community in the comments section. What I want to see is a list of players you think should be protected here.
Based on what we come up with as a community, I'll then run scenarios on who left on that 40 man roster above likely needs to to be either non tendered or involved in a second round of outrights sometime in November before the reserve deadline arrives.
Remember when making your list that for every player you want to protect, somebody else needs to be kicked off the 40 man roster. So it can be as long or as short as you want. These are the discussions the Rockies front office are having in October and November. Let's see where we as a community stand here, and how close we come to guessing what the front office actually decides to do.