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Rule 5 Draft: Order, eligible players and more

@JonathanMayo
December 9, 2019

SAN DIEGO -- The Winter Meetings are always full of uncertainty, mystery and intrigue. No one knows when a deal might go down or when a free agent might sign. But there is one certainty at the end of every Meetings: the Rule 5 Draft. Every year, all 30 teams

SAN DIEGO -- The Winter Meetings are always full of uncertainty, mystery and intrigue. No one knows when a deal might go down or when a free agent might sign. But there is one certainty at the end of every Meetings: the Rule 5 Draft.

Every year, all 30 teams gather for this annual search for diamonds in the rough, and every year teams do find big league talent. They might not jump to stardom, at least not right away, but there will undoubtedly be Major League contributors taken at this year’s Draft.

This year's Rule 5 Draft takes place Thursday in San Diego at noon ET, with a live audio stream on MLB.com. By virtue of finishing with the worst record in baseball in 2019, the Tigers get the first pick, followed by the Orioles and Marlins. The Royals and Blue Jays round out the top five.

There are hundreds of eligible players, and teams are going through those lists and scouring past reports, as well as any from the Arizona Fall League or winter ball, to help determine whether they want to make any selections.

The Draft order

Below is this year's Rule 5 Draft order, based on the reverse order of the 2019 regular-season standings. A team must have room on its 40-man roster to make a pick, so each team's 40-man status is noted in parentheses.

Rule 5 Draft order
A team can only select a player if it has space on its 40-man roster.
1. Tigers (37)
2. Orioles (38) 
3. Marlins (39) 
4. Royals (36) 
5. Blue Jays (37) 
6. Mariners (37) 
7. Pirates (39) 
8. Padres (40) 
9. Rockies (40) 
10. Angels (40) 
11. White Sox (37) 
12. Reds (38)
13. Giants (37) 
14. Rangers (39) 
15. Phillies (39) 
16. Cubs (37)
17. Red Sox (36) 
18. D-backs (37) 
19. Mets (40) 
20. Brewers (32) 
21. Cardinals (40) 
22. Nationals (31) 
23. Indians (40)
24. Rays (38) 
25. Braves (38) 
26. A's (38) 
27. Twins (35) 
28. Yankees (40)
29. Dodgers (39) 
30. Astros (38) 

How it works

Players first signed at age 18 must be added to 40-man rosters within five seasons or they become eligible to be drafted by other organizations through the Rule 5 Draft process. Players signed at age 19 or older have to be protected within four 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 25-man roster for the full season, he must be offered back to his former team for $50,000.

For this year, that means an international or high school Draft pick signed in 2015 -- assuming he was 18 or younger as of June 5 of that year -- has to be protected. A college player taken in the '16 Draft is in the same position.

There were 14 players taken in last year’s Major League phase. Eight of them saw at least a little big league time with the team that acquired them, either in the Draft or in a trade announced immediately at the conclusion of the draft. Over the last five years, 50 of the 80 players taken in this phase were in the big leagues, at least briefly, with that team.

There is also a Minor League phase of the Rule 5 Draft, with the costs rising from $12,000 to $24,000 for a Triple-A pick (anyone not protected on a big league or Triple-A roster is eligible). The Double-A phase has been eliminated. Players selected in this portion of the Rule 5 Draft aren't subject to any roster restrictions with their new organizations.

Recent successes

Two players from last year’s Major League phase finished with a positive Wins Above Replacement: Brandon Brennan (0.4) of the Mariners and the Blue Jays’ Elvis Luciano, who was the youngest player in the big leagues in 2019. In 2018, 11 of the 18 Major League phase draftees were in the big leagues with with the team that drafted them or traded for them immediately following the draft. Another three players made it to MLB after they were sent back to their original team. In 2016, 18 players were taken, and 10 spent time in the big leagues.

From that group, Brad Keller has had the most success with the Royals, spending two years on Kansas City’s staff and compiling a 6.2 WAR in 2018-19 combined. It's right up there with Odúbel Herrera's rookie campaign with the Phillies in '15. The outfielder compiled a 4.0 WAR that year, made the All-Star team in '16 and signed a five-year, $30.5 million extension with the Phillies almost two years to the day after being taken in the Rule 5 Draft. He'd been a big league regular for four seasons before getting an 85-game suspension for violating Major League Baseball's joint domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse policy.

Other recent success stories include reliever Joe Biagini, who landed on the Blue Jays' postseason roster in 2016 after a solid first year in the big leagues, and Matt Bowman, who had a strong '16 campaign after his Rule 5 Draft selection in '15.

All-time best picks

The way the Rule 5 Draft works has changed over time. So while everyone's all-time list would undeniably start with Roberto Clemente, it's almost as if a "modern era" type qualifier is needed. Looking at 1990 through last year, here's how Rule 5 Draft picks line up in a top five, ranked by career WAR.

1) Johan Santana, LHP, 50.7
2) Shane Victorino, OF, 31.2
3) Josh Hamilton, OF, 28.1
4) Joakim Soria, RHP, 17.8
5) Dan Uggla, 2B, 17.5

Soria’s the only active player in this quintet and he passed Uggla after his 0.4 WAR in 2019.

Top available prospects

Here's a list of all 30 teams' Top 30 Prospects who are eligible to be selected in the Rule 5 Draft:

Atlanta Braves
16) Thomas Burrows, LHP

Baltimore Orioles
17) Cody Sedlock, RHP
30) Gray Fenter, RHP

Boston Red Sox
26) Eduard Bazardo, RHP

Chicago Cubs
22) Oscar De La Cruz, RHP
28) Trent Giambrone, INF/OF

Chicago White Sox
27) Alec Hansen, RHP

Cincinnati Reds
18) Alfredo Rodriguez, SS
19) Andy Sugilio, OF
20) TJ Friedl, OF
21) Michael Beltre, OF
24) Mariel Bautista, OF

Cleveland Indians
14) Luis Oviedo, RHP

Colorado Rockies
17) Robert Tyler, RHP
19) Reid Humphreys, RHP
24) Daniel Montano, OF
27) Roberto Ramos, 1B

Detroit Tigers
22) Elvin Rodriguez, RHP
27) Jake Robson, OF

Houston Astros
16) Ronnie Dawson, OF
25) Jonathan Arauz, SS/3B

Kansas City Royals
11) Seuly Matias, OF
19) Emmanuel Rivera, 3B
29) Gabriel Cancel, 2B

Los Angeles Angels
24) Leonardo Rivas, SS/2B

Los Angeles Dodgers
23) Cristian Santana, 3B/1B
26) Jordan Sheffield, RHP

Miami Marlins
26) Will Stewart, LHP

Milwaukee Brewers
3) Zack Brown, RHP
14) Lucas Erceg, 3B/1B
18) Braden Webb, RHP

Minnesota Twins
7) Wander Javier, SS
21) Griffin Jax, RHP

New York Mets
8) Shervyen Newton, INF
27) Patrick Mazeika, C
28) Desmond Lindsay, OF
29) Luis Carpio, 2B/SS

Philadelphia Phillies
12) Jhailyn Ortiz, OF
13) Rafael Marchan, C
17) Rodolfo Duran, C
23) Daniel Brito, 2B/SS
28) Cornelius Randolph, OF

Pittsburgh Pirates
14) Luis Escobar, RHP
15) Lolo Sanchez, OF

San Diego Padres
18) Esteury Ruiz, 2B
25) Buddy Reed, OF

San Francisco Giants
16) Sandro Fabian, OF
20) Franklin Labour, OF
22) Ricardo Genoves, C
28) Garrett Williams, LHP

Seattle Mariners
24) Dom Thompson-Williams, OF
28) Ljay Newsome, RHP

St. Louis Cardinals
24) Conner Capel, OF
30) Max Schrock, 2B/3B

Tampa Bay Rays
13) Moises Gomez, OF
27) Resly Linares, LHP

Texas Rangers
30) Eli White, SS/OF

Washington Nationals
13) Sterling Sharp, RHP
21) Steven Fuentes, RHP
22) Malvin Pena, RHP
25) Gilbert Lara, SS/3B
27) Telmito Agustin, OF
28) Jhonatan German, RHP

Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLBPipeline.com. Follow him on Twitter @JonathanMayo and Facebook, and listen to him on the weekly MLB Pipeline Podcast.