With several open slots on their 40-man roster, the A’s took the opportunity to protect a handful of their promising young prospects from inclusion in the upcoming Rule 5 Draft.
Shortstop Nick Allen (Oakland's No. 3 prospect, per MLB Pipeline), infielders Jordan Diaz (No. 11) and Jonah Bride, outfielder Cody Thomas (No. 19) and right-hander Jorge Juan (No. 21) were all added to Oakland’s roster ahead of Friday’s deadline to add players who are eligible for the Rule 5 Draft. Following the additions, the A’s 40-man roster stands at 34.
Teams without a full 40-man roster are allowed to select certain non-40-man roster players from other clubs in the Rule 5 Draft, with teams drafting in reverse order of the standings from the previous season. Players signed at 19 years old or younger must be added to their club’s 40-man roster within four seasons for protection from the Rule 5 Draft, while players signed at 18 years or younger need to be added within five seasons.
Clubs pay $100,000 to select a player in the Major League phase of the Rule 5 Draft. If that player doesn't stay on the new team's MLB roster for the full ensuing season, he must be offered back to his former team for $50,000.
The A’s have a history of activity in the Rule 5 Draft. They acquired two players in the Major League portion of the Rule 5 last year, selecting outfielder Ka’ai Tom and right-hander Dany Jiménez, though Tom was designated for assignment in April while Jiménez was returned to the Blue Jays during Spring Training. In 2020, Oakland selected infielder Vimael Machín, who remains on the club’s 40-man roster and appeared in 15 games for the A’s in 2021.
Allen, 23, is expected to make his arrival to the big leagues at some point in 2022. The slick-fielding infielder made big strides this year, combining to slash .288/.346/.403 with six home runs, 17 doubles and 12 stolen bases in 89 games between Double-A Midland and Triple-A Las Vegas. Allen also received a chance to show off his skills on the national stage as he helped Team USA capture a silver medal in the Tokyo Olympics.
Diaz has long impressed with his bat, including in his 2021 campaign with High-A Lansing in which he hit .288 with 13 home runs, 24 doubles, a triple and 56 RBIs in 90 games. The 21-year-old infielder also impressed A’s scouts with his defensive improvement at both corner infield spots.
While Bride, 25, is not among Oakland’s Top 30 Prospects, he has gained plenty of fans within the A’s scouting department for his defensive versatility, including an introduction to the catcher position over the past month while playing in the Arizona Fall League. He played 78 games for Double-A Midland this year, hitting .265 with nine homers and 49 RBIs. His .381 career on-base percentage in the Minors also fits the profile of players the A’s tend to value.
Thomas was acquired along with left-hander Adam Kolarek from the Dodgers in a February deal that sent infielder Sheldon Neuse and right-hander Gus Varland to Los Angeles. Battling injuries, the 27-year-old outfielder continued his slugging ways in his first year in Oakland's system, hitting .289 with 18 homers and 52 RBIs in 59 games at Triple-A Las Vegas.
Juan, 22, possesses a two-pitch mix that features a power fastball that can hit as high as 99 mph and a curveball that flashes plus around 85 mph. He put together a 5.40 ERA across 26 2/3 innings with 40 strikeouts in eight combined appearances for Low-A Stockton and High-A Lansing.