It's a new year, and I guess that means that football playoffs aside, it is time to start to kick the baseball content into gear.
And, well, every year I like to look carefully at the Rule 5 picks. The fun aspect of the Rule 5 guys is the selecting team is obligated to keep said player on the active roster for all of the following season. Meaning all the players noted below, from the first round of this year's Rule 5, will be active on their new team for 2015. Unless they wind up on the DL (which does indeed happen). However, if the new team wants to send the player down, the player must be returned to his original organization.
On the other hand, these guys were made to be $1 sleepers in an auction league, and they are even reasonable as a last reserve crapshoot in an NFBC-type format.
Oscar Hernandez (C, from the Rays to the Diamondbacks): At 21, Hernandez is still pretty young to have five years of service under his belt (a parm of Rule 5 is five years within an organization with no appearances in the Majors), so he could be a nice chip, but with a .249-9-63 line last year with 25 walks to 78 strikeouts at Hudson Valley (A ball), Hernandez will likely be overmatched in the Majors.
Mark Canha (1B/3B/OF, from the Marlins to the Athletics via the Rockies): A Bay Area product, Canha similarly went to UC Berkeley before being drafted by the Marlins, then nabbed by the Rockies, and then swiped by Oakland. With a .303-20-82 line last year at Triple-A New Orleans with 57 walks to 112 strikeouts (.384 OBP), Canha's versatility fits right in to the Athletics schema, and he looks as close to "camera ready" as anyone on this list.
Delino DeShields, Jr. (OF, from Astros to the Rangers): Deshields has been a top prospect, one with a pedigree no less, but I guess his stumble at Corpus Christi last year (.236-11-57, albeit with 57 swipes) was apparently not enough for the Astros to protect. In fairness, Houston is not exactly bereft of prospects. The problem seems to be Texas is similarly loaded with the likes of Jurickson Profar and Rougned Odor, both of which DeShields is a sort of clone. Third wheel, methinks.
Jason Garcia (P, from the Red Sox to the Orioles, via the Astros): Not totally sure about the interest in this guy, save maybe he throws hard and is still working on his control. He did strike out 59 over 56.3 innings last year at two levels, saving three games, but walking 24 (1.31 WHIP). Anyway, after Boston grabbed Garcia as a Rule 5, they swapped him to Baltimore for a player to be named later. He's a reliever, so not worth much of an investment anywhere in 2015.
J.R. Graham (P, from the Braves to the Twins): I understand the claiming of right-hander Graham even less. Graham spent his second straight season at Double-A (at 23) and went 1-5, 5.55 over 71.3 innings. Pass.
Jandel Gustave (P, from the Astros to the Royals, via the Red Sox): Kind of like Garcia, Boston claimed Gustave, then turned him over to the Royals for cash. He just turned 22, and did strike out 82 over 79 innings last year, with two saves. He also posted a 5-5 mark with a 5.01 ERA and a 1.56 WHIP. He is interesting, but not worth an investment.
Taylor Featherston (2B, from the Rockies to Angels, via the Cubs): I am seeing a pattern in drafting and swapping Rule 5. Decent .260-16-57 at Double-A Tulsa. However, the Texas League is a hitter's environment, and he just turned 25. Could be a Mike Aviles type. More likely a John McDonald type.
Odubel Herrera (2B, from the Rangers to the Phillies): Herrera just turned 22, and hit pretty well at Double-A Frisco (.321-2-47 with 12 swipes), and displacing Freddy Galvis doesn't seem to be that tough. And, well, the Rangers did have a lot of Herrera clones.
Andrew McKirahan (P, from the Cubs to the Marlins): Another reliever, McKirahan converted ten games over two levels, going 2-4, 2.08. The latter was at Double-A, where he struck out 24 of the 57 he copped over 65 innings. Might be something some day, but probably not in 2015 (he will be 25 on Opening Day).
Sean Gilmartin (P, from the Twins to the Mets): Gilmartin, who turns 25 in May, was 9-7, 3.71 over 145.6 innings spread between Double-A and Triple-A. He went 2-4, 4.28 with a 1.32 WHIP over 76.6 Triple-A frames with 59 strikeouts. Middle reliever for now.
Daniel Winkler (P, from the Rockies to the Braves): Another 25-year-old, one with a killer 2014 (5-2, 1.41 over 12 starts and 70 innings with 71 strikeouts to 17 walks (0.74 WHIP). And then he needed Tommy John surgery. Which means there is a good chance Winkler will be a Rule 5 protected on the DL. Which also means he will not have much value in 2015, but could be worth tracking in 2016.
David Rollins (P, from the Astros to the Mariners): Age 25 returns, this time as a reliever after going 3-4, 3.81 with a save at Double-A over 78 innings. A 1.23 WHIP, but Rollins is not likely to make much of a contribution to the Mariners or your team either.
Logan Verrett (P, from the Mets to the Orioles): 11-5, 4.33 over 162 Triple-A innings. Essentially, the Mets gave up Verrett to obtain Gilmartin. Another long shot.