The Rockies will have to make roster decisions this weekend. In particular, they need to decide which players to add to the 40-man roster in order to protect them from being taken in the Rule 5 draft.
The reserves deadline is Monday, November 20. It’s the next date on the MLB offseason calendar. While not as well-known or publicized as much as many of the other deadlines on the offseason calendar, the reserves deadline play a very important part in a team’s offseason plans. If a team wishes to protect an eligible prospect from the Rule 5 draft at the upcoming winter meetings, they have to move them to the team’s 40-man roster by Monday’s deadline.
A player is eligible to be drafted by another team in the Rule 5 draft if they have played in professional baseball for four years if they were 19 or older at the time of their signing. If a player was 18 or younger at the tie of signing, then they are eligible after having played for five years; however, all players on a team’s 40-man roster are exempt. Teams will move their top eligible prospects to their 40-man roster to prevent them from being taken in the Rule 5 draft.
Last year, the Rockies added Yency Almonte, Shane Carle, Rayan Gonzalez, Zach Jemiola and Sam Moll to their 40-man roster to protect them. Only Carle played for the big-league team last year. Gonzalez was expected to before his injury, but the Rockies were extremely cautious in making sure they didn’t lose any of their MiLB pitching depth. Due to their cautious approach the Rockies only lost Josh Rutledge, whom they had signed as a minor-league free agent, in the 2016 Rule 5 draft.
The Rockies having seven open roster spots on their 40-man roster heading into the deadline, and they could be equally cautious protecting this year and use all of those spots or even more if they want to remove other players from the 40-man roster. If you want to look at the full list of Rule 5-eligible prospects, Rockies Roster has a great list. The vast majority of those prospects, if you want to call them that, are in no danger of being selected, and even if they were would be no loss to the organization.
Of that list, Purple Row roster expert Sage Farron identified the following candidates as players the Rockies may protect:
RHP Sam Howard
C Dom Nunez
RHP James Farris
RHP Austin House
LHP Harrison Musgrave
OF Wes Rogers
RHP Shane Broyles
OF Yonathan Daza
RHP Julian Fernandez
1B Roberto Ramos
RHP Jesus Tinoco
LHP Jerry Vasto
For the most part I agree with Sage’s list; however, I’m not sure that Musgrave should be considered likely and would probably put him in the fringe category myself. Of the players on the fringe category, Shane Broyles is most likely to be protected, followed up by Jerry Vasto and Yonathan Daza.
The Rockies do have at least seven spots available, so they should have no issue protecting their most valuable assets and preserve their notable minor-league depth. Unless the Rockies are currently working on a trade, there is no advantage in waiting until the deadline to protect the players. The moves could happen any time between now and Monday.
Who do you think the Rockies should protect?