MLB Rule 5 Draft start time, order, eligible players & more to know for 2020
The Major League Baseball Rule 5 Draft takes place Thursday as part of the conclusion of 2020’s virtual Winter Meetings.
If you’ve never heard of the Rule 5 Draft, don’t worry about it — that’s what we’re here for. It’s an opportunity for teams to acquire players who have been relatively given up on by one organization in the hopes of unearthing an unexpected star or big-league contributor. In recent years, Johna Santana, Shane Victorino, Dan Uggla and Josh Hamilton all turned out to be standout Rule 5 Draft picks.
There were 11 players taken in last year’s MLB phase of the Rule 5 Draft, and six of them played in the major leagues for their selecting team (or a team that acquired them in an immediate trade, something common in the Rule 5 Draft). The 2017 Rule 5 Draft brought the Royals starting pitcher Brad Keller, the most recent selection to record a substantive WAR total (8.3) with his drafting team.
Here’s what you need to know about the 2020 iteration of the Rule 5 Draft:
What is the MLB Rule 5 Draft?
The Rule 5 Draft takes place every offseason and allows clubs to select players from other minor-league systems that haven’t been placed on a 40-man roster after a set length of time. We get more into the eligibility rules below, but the Rule 5 Draft essentially attempts to prevent worthy players from toiling in a team’s minor-league system.
Any player taken in the MLB portion of the Rule 5 Draft is required to stay on the selecting team’s major league roster for a year. Otherwise, the player is offered back to the system he came from.
There is also a Minor League phase of the Rule 5 Draft, which allows similar movement among players in the lower minors after they’ve spent a set amount of time in their original farm system.
When is the MLB Rule 5 Draft in 2020?
- Date: Thursday, Dec. 10Start time: Noon ET
The Major League Baseball Rule 5 Draft always takes place on the final day of the Winter Meetings. This year, the Winter Meetings are virtual and the Rule 5 Draft is taking place over the phone, but it’s still taking place on the final day of the altered Winter Meetings.
MLB Rule 5 Draft order
The Rule 5 Draft order is the reverse order of the 2020 regular-season standings. Teams can only make a selection if they have an open spot on their 40-man roster.
1. Pittsburgh Pirates 2. Texas Rangers 3. Detroit Tigers 4. Boston Red Sox 5. Baltimore Orioles 6. Arizona Diamondbacks 7. Kansas City Royals 8. Colorado Rockies 9. Los Angeles Angels 10. New York Mets 11. Washington Nationals 12. Seattle Mariners 13. Philadelphia Phillies 14. San Francisco Giants 15. Houston Astros 16. Milwaukee Brewers 17. Miami Marlins 18. Cincinnati Reds 19. St. Louis Cardinals 20. Toronto Blue Jays 21. New York Yankees 22. Chicago Cubs 23. Chicago White Sox 24. Cleveland Indians 25. Atlanta Braves 26. Oakland Athletics 27. Minnesota Twins 28. San Diego Padres 29. Tampa Bay Rays 30. Los Angeles Dodgers
MLB Rule 5 Draft eligibility
For players to be eligible for selection in the Rule 5 Draft, they have to have been in a MLB team’s minor-league system for a set length of time. Here are the parameters:
- Players who signed with their current club at age 18 or younger and have five years of experience are eligible to be drafted if they aren’t on the 40-man roster.Players who signed at 19 or older and have four years of experience are eligible, as well.
Once a player is selected, the drafting team pays the player’s former team $100,000 for the pick. If the player doesn’t stay on the MLB roster for the full season, he must be offered back to the former team for $50,000.
Best Rule 5 Draft picks
The greatest Rule 5 Draft pick ever has to be considered Roberto Clemente, who was taken by the Pirates from the Dodgers in 1954. That was in a very different era of the Rule 5 Draft, though, as some of the parameters have changed over time.
Here are some of the more recent best Rule 5 Draft picks:
- Johan Santana: Picked by the Marlins from the Astros, Santana was traded immediately to the Twins where he grew into a southpaw ace.Shane Victorino: Picked by the Phillies from the Dodgers and turned into a two-time All-Star outfielder.George Bell: Picked by the Blue Jays from the Phillies and won the 1987 AL MVP.Josh Hamilton: Picked by the Cubs from the Devil Rays before being sold to the Reds. Cincinnati eventually traded Hamilton to the Rangers, where he became a star outfielder.Dan Uggla: Picked by the Marlins from the Diamondbacks and became a slugging second baseman in Florida.Marwin Gonzalez: Picked by the Red Sox from the Cubs before being traded to the Astros, where he became a standout utility player.Jose Bautista: Picked by the Orioles from the Pirates, although it took a few more stops before Bautista became a feared slugger.
2020 Rule 5 Draft targets
The Rule 5 Draft often comes down to a particular club’s evaluation of a player being higher than everyone else’s, along with some elements of a heavy MLB need contributing. In an unprecedented offseason, it’s impossible to predict who may be taken in the Rule 5 Draft. Four unprotected players who stand out include Kevin Maitan (infield | Angels) and Lazaro Armenteros (outfield | Athletics), who were two of the most-hyped international prospects of the last decade, former fourth-overall pick Riley Pint (right-handed pitcher | Rockies) and former 22nd-overall pick Will Craig (first base | Pirates).
Here’s a list of players ranked in MLB Pipeline’s Top 30 for each club that are unprotected heading into the 2020 Rule 5 Draft:
Atlanta Braves Thomas Burrows, LHP
Baltimore Orioles Cody Sedlock, RHP Brenan Hanifee, RHP
Chicago Cubs Brendon Little, LHP
Chicago White Sox Lenyn Sosa, SS Luis Mieses, OF Will Kincanon, RHP
Cincinnati Reds Jacob Heatherly, LHP Alferdo Rodriguez, SS TJ Friedl, OF Joel Kuhnel, RHP Mariel Bautista, OF
Cleveland Indians Luis Oviedo, RHP
Colorado Rockies Daniel Montano, OF Riley Pint, RHP Ever Moya, LHP
Detroit Tigers Wenceel Perez, SS Elvin Rodriguez, RHP
Houston Astros Jose Alberto Rivera, RHP Luis Santana, IF Ronnie Dawson, OF J.J. Matijevic, 1B/OF
Kansas City Royals Seuly Matias, OF Brewer Hicklen, OF Yefri Del Rosario, RHP
Los Angeles Angels Packy Naughton, LHP Jose Soriano, RHP Oliver Ortega, RHP Livan Soto, SS Orlando Martinez, OF Kevin Maitan, IF Leonardo Rivas, SS
Los Angeles Dodgers Omar Estevez, IF Brett de Geus, RHP Cody Thomas, OF
Milwaukee Brewers Zack Brown, RHP Payton Henry, C Lucas Erceg, 3B Pablo Abreu, OF
Minnesota Twins Wander Javier, SS Akil Baddoo, OF Jose Miranda, IF Yunior Severino, 2B Gabriel Maciel, OF
New York Mets Shervyen Newton, IF Dedniel Nunez, RHP Michel Otanez, RHP Tony Dibrell, RHP Daison Acosta, RHP
New York Yankees Trevor Stephan, RHP
Oakland Athletics Jordan Diaz, 3B Lazaro Armenteros, OF Buddy Reed, OF Brian Howard, RHP Parker Dunshee, RHP
Philadelphia Phillies Enyel De Los Santos, RHP Jhailyn Ortiz, OF Rodolfo Duran, C David Parkinson, LHP Arquimedes Gamboa, SS Daniel Brito, 2B
Pittsburgh Pirates Santiago Florez, RHP Kevin Kramer, 2B Will Craig, 1B Lolo Sanchez, OF
San Diego Padres Tirso Ornelas, OF Esteury Ruiz, 2B Lake Bachar, RHP Pedro Avila, RHP Eguy Rosario, IF Jordy Barley, SS
Seattle Mariners Joe Rizzo, 3B
St. Louis Cardinals Julio E. Rodriguez, C Juan Yepez, OF Roel Ramirez, RHP Alvaro Seijas, RHP
Tampa Bay Rays Moises Gomez, OF Paul Campbell, RHP
Toronto Blue Jays Kevin Smith, IF Josh Winckowski, RHP
Washington Nationals Israel Pineda, C Sterling Sharp, RHP Raudy Read, C Cole Freeman, OF Nick Banks, OF