SAN DIEGO -- The return of the Rule 5 Draft at the Winter Meetings for the first time since 2019 brought a packed house and plenty of activity in the Major League phase on Wednesday afternoon.
A total of 15 players were taken in that portion of the Rule 5, starting with the Nationals selecting right-hander Thad Ward from the Red Sox and finishing with the Mets taking right-hander Zach Greene from the Yankees. It’s shy of the 18 players that were taken the last time the Major League phase took place, remotely in 2020 (It didn’t happen at all in 2021 because of the lockout.). That had been the most since 2010, when 19 players were taken.
Players in the Major League phase can be selected for $100,000 and must stick on the Major League active roster or be offered back to the original team for $50,000.
There was also a flurry of activity in the Minor League phase, with 67 selections, bringing the total number of players taken to 82, topping the 74 taken in 2020 and tied for the most of any Rule 5 Draft since 1983 (82 players were also taken in 2002).
Leading up to the Draft, it was widely believed the Nationals would use the first pick to try to bolster their big league roster, and they did so by selecting Ward from Boston. Ward, who was the No. 15 prospect on the Red Sox Top 30 and slots in at No. 13 on Washington’s, relies heavily on his above-average slider and has a 92-96 mph sinker. He threw well in 2022, both during the regular season and in the Arizona Fall League, in his return from 2021 Tommy John surgery.
“When we do these Rule 5 selections,” said Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo, “it’s kind of a balance between an upside pitcher that you’re trying to really hit on and kind of surety of being able to keep the player on the roster all season. … He’s got a good, four-pitch mix of pitches, he throws enough strikes, he’s a savvy enough pitcher and a competitor that he could stay in the big leagues. We believe there’s still some left in the tank in upside where his velocity could get back to pre-Tommy John stature.”
Rizzo said that he sees starter traits in Ward, but added that he might be a multi-inning reliever type if he’s going to stick in the big leagues.
That would be the first of three players the Red Sox would lose in the Major League phase, including the most intriguing selection of the day. The Phillies took Noah Song, the Red Sox’s fourth-round pick out of the Naval Academy in 2019, even though the right-hander has just 17 pro innings on his resume, and none since 2019. Phillies president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski was with the Red Sox when they drafted Song, so he was well aware of his upside.
Boston had hoped Song would be able to get out of his Naval commitment, but that has not come to pass, and he’s been on the military reserve list as he served. The Phillies can keep him on that list, so he won’t take up a spot on the 40-man roster, making it as low risk as possible.
“We made sure to double-check that he was available to be drafted, which he was,” Dombrowski said. “I knew him at the time (of the 2019 Draft). We loved him. We thought he was a No. 1 Draft choice; we thought he might be the best starting pitcher in the country. We took a gamble at that point because we thought maybe he wouldn’t have to serve, but he ended up having to do that.
“Being available like this, we really had nothing to lose. We like his talent a lot. We get to put him on the military list right off the bat, so he’s not on our 40-man roster. We figured we’d take a chance and just see what ends up happening. This is a long shot by all means, but it’s worth taking a shot, we thought. I don’t know if anybody knows exactly when he’ll be released from his service. But for the cost of the Draft, we thought it was worth taking him.”
Once Song is reinstated from the military reserve list, he is subject to the usual Rule 5 requirements, meaning he must be placed on the active Major League roster and remain there for the full season.
The Dodgers also lost three players, with the A’s taking first baseman Ryan Noda No. 2 overall, the Pirates taking lefty Jose Hernandez with the third pick and the Brewers selecting right-hander Gus Varland No. 10.
The Rule 5 is historically pitching heavy and this year’s edition was decidedly tilted to the mound, with pitchers accounting for 13 of the 15 picks. Only Noda, whose power bat could fit in the A’s lineup, and outfielder Blake Sabol, initially selected by the Reds from the Pirates, bucked that trend.
"I like the power,” A’s GM David Forst said, adding that Noda could potentially play an outfield corner. “I like the walks. I like the defense at first base. We've asked the Dodgers about him a number of times over the last two years. His name came up in the [Adam] Kolarek deal and other potential trades. This was finally our opportunity to give him a shot. The last two years, he’s done everything you could ask at Double-A and Triple-A, so I’m looking forward to giving him an opportunity.”
Two trades were announced soon after the conclusion of the Rule 5 Draft. The Rays acquired right-hander Kevin Kelly, taken by the Rockies, for cash considerations while the Reds sent Sabol to the Giants for a player to be named later.
Major League phase
- Nationals (38) -- RHP Thad Ward (BOS) becomes Nationals' No. 13 prospect
- A’s (38) -- 1B Ryan Noda (LAD) becomes A's No. 26 prospect
- Pirates (38) -- LHP Jose Hernandez (LAD)
- Reds (39) -- OF Blake Sabol (PIT)
- Royals (40) -- Roster full
- Tigers (38) -- RHP Mason Englert (TEX) becomes Tigers' No. 26 prospect
- Rangers (40) -- Roster full
- Rockies (38) -- RHP Kevin Kelly (CLE)
- Marlins (39) -- RHP Nic Enright (CLE) becomes Marlins' No. 24 prospect
- Angels (40) -- Roster full
- D-backs (40) -- Roster full
- Cubs (36) -- Pass
- Twins (39) -- Pass
- Red Sox (39) -- Pass
- White Sox (36) -- RHP Nick Avila (SF)
- Giants (39) -- Pass
- Orioles (38) -- RHP Andrew Politi (BOS)
- Brewers (38) -- RHP Gus Varland (LAD)
- Rays (39) -- Pass
- Phillies (38) -- RHP Noah Song (BOS)
- Padres (34) -- LHP Jose Lopez (TB) becomes Padres' No. 22 prospect
- Mariners (37) -- RHP Chris Clarke (CHC) becomes Mariners' No. 28 prospect
- Guardians (39) -- Pass
- Blue Jays (39) -- Pass
- Cardinals (38) -- RHP Wilking Rodriguez (NYY)
- Yankees (39) -- Pass
- Mets (34) -- RHP Zach Greene (NYY) becomes Mets' No. 25 prospect
- Braves (38) -- Pass
- Astros (37) -- Pass
- Dodgers (37) -- Pass
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.
Minor League phase
A's -- RHP Joelvis Del Rosario (PIT)
Pirates -- RHP Wei-Chieh Huang (SF)
Reds -- RHP Kyle Glogoski (PHI)
Royals -- SS Shervyen Newton (PHI)
Tigers -- RHP Layne Henderson (HOU)
Rockies -- LHP Eli Lingos (CLE)
Marlins -- 3B Dane Myers (DET)
Angels -- C Ronaldo Flores (SF)
D-backs -- RHP Taylor Rashi (SF)
Cubs -- LHP Jose Aquino (SEA)
Twins -- OF Armani Smith (SF)
Red Sox -- LHP Joe Jacques (PIT)
White Sox -- RHP Ernesto Jaquez (HOU)
Orioles -- RHP Alfred Vega (NYY)
Brewers -- 2B Isaac Collins (COL)
Rays -- RHP Hector Perez (BAL)
Phillies -- SS Pedro Martinez (TB)
Padres -- 3B Evan Mendoza (STL)
Mariners -- 1B Francisco Tostado (SF)
Guardians -- RHP Bradley Hanner (MIN)
Blue Jays -- C Kekai Rios (LAD)
Cardinals -- C Jose Alvarez (HOU)
Yankees -- LHP Pablo Mujica (KC)
Mets -- RHP Wilkin Ramos (PIT)
Braves -- RHP Domingo Gonzalez (PIT)
Astros -- LHP Max Roberts (SEA)
Dodgers -- RHP Yon Castro (NYY)
Pirates -- OF Joshua Palacios (WSH)
Reds -- RHP Brooks Crawford (SF)
Rockies -- RHP Nicholas Kuzia (DET)
Marlins -- RHP Austin Roberts (PIT)
Angels -- OF Jared Oliva (PIT)
D-backs -- RHP Denny Larrondo (NYY)
Cubs -- RHP Nick Burdi (SD)
Twins -- SS Yohander Martinez (HOU)
Red Sox -- RHP Ryan Miller (NYY)
Orioles -- LHP Trey McGough (PIT)
Rays -- RHP Enmanuel Mejia (PIT)
Phillies -- RHP Yoniel Ramirez (SF)
Mariners -- SS Logan Warmoth (TOR)
Guardians -- C Michael Berglund (TB)
Cardinals -- RHP Brandon Komar (SD)
Mets -- OF Agustin Ruiz (SD)
Astros -- LHP Bryan King (CHC)
Dodgers -- RHP Carlo Reyes (PHI)
Marlins -- RHP Cristian Charle (PIT)
Angels -- SS Riley Unroe (SEA)
D-backs -- RHP Peter Solomon (PIT)
Cubs -- OF Jefferson Encarnacion (PHI)
Twins -- INF Yoyner Fajardo (PIT)
Orioles -- C Randy Florentino (TEX)
Rays -- RHP Nelson Alvarez (NYY)
Phillies -- RHP Zach Linginfelter (LAA)
Guardians -- RHP Justin Lewis (AZ)
Cardinals -- RHP Jose Martinez (LAD)
Mets -- 2B Jonathan Arauz (BAL)
Astros -- RHP Manuel Urias (PHI)
Dodgers -- OF Josh Stowers (TEX)
Angels -- RHP Willian Suarez (SF)
Twins -- RHP Seth Nordlin (TEX)
Phillies -- SS Cameron Cannon (BOS)
Cardinals -- RHP Ryan Shreve (MIN)
Mets -- SS Mateo Gil (COL)
Astros -- LHP Luis Rodriguez (CHC)
Phillies -- RHP Trey Cobb (NYM)
Phillies -- C Cody Roberts (BAL)
Phillies -- INF Oliver Dunn (NYY)