The games are over, but the roster games are just beginning.
There has been activity surrounding the Cardinals’ 40-man roster in recent days, with Kyle Lohse and Lance Berkman filing for free agency, Lohse receiving a one-year qualifying offer from the club, and others being shuffled around in preparation for December’s Rule 5 draft.
Kyle McClellan was re-instated to the 40-man, coming off of the 60-day disabled list, and pitcher Jorge Rondon was added to protect him from the Rule 5 draft. Pitcher Adam Reifer, and catchers Steven Hill and Bryan Anderson were outrighted off of the 40-man roster, exposing them to being selected as a Rule 5 player (and Hill can actually opt for free agency, having been outrighted for the second time).
Quick refresher on the Rule 5 draft:
If chosen in the Rule 5 draft, a player must be kept on the selecting team’s 25-man major league roster for the entire season after the draft—he may not be optioned or designated to the minors. The selecting team may, at any time, waive the Rule 5 draftee. If a Rule 5 draftee clears waivers by not signing with a new MLB team, he must be offered back to the original team, effectively canceling the Rule 5 draft choice. Once a Rule 5 draftee spends an entire season on his new team’s 25-man roster, his status reverts to normal and he may be optioned or designated for assignment.
Players are eligible for selection in the Rule 5 draft who are not on their major league organization’s 40-man roster and:
– were signed at age 19 or older and have been in the organization for four years; or
– were signed at age 18 or younger and have been in the organization for five years.
Organizations may also draft players from AA or lower to play for their AAA affiliates and may draft players from A teams or lower to play for their AA affiliates.
Thanks to an enterprising scout.com message boarder, below is the list of players the Cardinals will potentially expose to being selected in the Rule 5:
Ildemaro Vargas (could be lost in AA or AAA portion)
Deryk Hooker (could be lost in AAA portion)
Jesus Montero (could be lost in AA or AAA portion)
Anthony Ferrara (could be lost in AAA portion)
Scott McGregor (could be lost in AAA portion)
Robert Stock (could be lost in AA or AAA portion)
Chris Corrigan (could be lost in AAA portion)
Richard Castillo (could be lost in AAA portion)
Jose Almarante (could be lost in AA or AAA portion)
Rainel Rosario (could be lost in a minor league portion)
Luis De La Cruz (could be lost in a minor league portion)
There are currently 37 players on the Cardinals’ 40-man roster, leaving three open spots to be filled either by free agents or by names from the list above. Players must be on the 40-man roster by November 20th in order to be protected from selection in the Rule 5 draft.
Potential still exists that one or more of the 37 players currently on the 40-man roster could still be removed, via trade, non-tender or outright release.
Speculation is that any or all of Barret Browning, Brandon Dickson, and Kyle McClellan could be removed from the roster to make room if necessary. Even Marc Rzepczynski could be an outside candidate for non-tender after his rough 2012 campaign. I doubt the club is in a huge hurry to dump Rzep so unceremoniously, especially with a relative dearth of left-handed arms coming behind him, but stranger things have happened.
So who do the Cardinals add to their protected 40-man roster in advance of the Rule 5 draft?
Like the benevolent soul who compiled the list above, I believe Eric Fornataro and Kevin Siegrist to be the most likely to be protected (if any) – again, operating on the knowledge that any club selecting a player must keep said player on their 25-man active roster for the entire season. There are several other names of interest on the list, in my opinion, but none that I think would warrant a team using up a precious roster spot for them. (Although you never know with Jeff Luhnow in charge of a club that could reasonably stand to waste spots in planning for the future.)
The right-handed Fornataro has a low-to-mid 90′s fastball and really blossomed in a bullpen role in Springfield this season after being a starter in all of his prior professional seasons. Left-hander Siegrist pitched very well in Palm Beach in 2012, going 6-0 there before earning a call-up to Springfield, and is currently pitching in the Arizona Fall League.
Other names of note: Audry Perez (can never have too many catchers, right), Robert Stock (if only to still gauge what he will be as a pitcher), Keith Butler (was successful as Springfield’s closer in 2012), Xavier Scruggs (big bat, but LOTS of swing and miss).
Which name or names above would you protect from the Rule 5 draft?