Mariners near Rule 5 roster deadline

Steven Bisig-US PRESSWIRE

The Mariners have six open spots on the 40-man roster before tomorrow's Rule 5 deadline. Who should they add?

Tomorrow is November 20th, and you know what that means:

  • Universal Children's Day
  • AFI singer Davey Havok's birthday
  • Wedding day of Elizabeth II
  • Date by which all MLB teams must finalize their 40 man rosters for the Rule 5 draft
  • New Comic Book release day

While I'm excited about all of those things, this is a baseball blog, and I suppose we should talk about the baseball thing listed above. The Rule 5 Draft! Everyone's favorite part about baseball!

The Rule 5 Draft follows the same draft order as the regular-season amateur draft (the M's pick sixth this year), and takes place during each offseason's Winter Meetings. Anyone who is not on a team's 40-man roster by November 20th (College draftee in 2010, High School draftee 2009) is eligible to be stolen by another team for $50,000 and a shrug of the shoulders when it doesn't end up working out. That player must stay on the team that took them--and on that team's 25 man roster--or else they go back to their originating teams for half-price, if they clear waivers.

The Mariners picked up Lucas Luetge from the Brewers in the 2011 Rule 5, and he ended up being a pretty solid case for the utility of the whole idea. Of course, the recent diamond case of all this was Johan Santana, picked by the Marlins in 1999 after the Astros left him off their 40-man roster. But Luetge seems a much more reasonable goal--if such luck is even likely to be repeatable.

Of course, after the Major League Rule 5 draft, the Minors get their share and it starts to get crazy confusing. The 40-man rule still applies, but now any eligible player must also be off a team's AAA reserve roster of 38 players. AA again trickles this down to anyone not on the AA reserve of 37 players. Wow this is reductive. I'm glad I don't work in a front office. The implications of the Minor League phases of Rule 5 aren't as severe, according to Baseball America's J.J. Cooper:

In other words, a player selected in the Triple-A phase does not rank among his organization’s top 78 talents, and a Double-A selection does not rank among its top 115. In these cases, players are not required to remain on a particular roster. The player’s contract is irrevocably assigned to the drafting team and the drafting fee ($12,000 for Triple-A, $4,000 for Double-A) is paid.

I'm not a huge prospect guy (Look for our very own Rick Randall's top 50 prospect countdown at SeattleClubhouse in the next couple weeks), so to pretend I can even name someone outside of the 115 top prospects would be nuts. And while there have been notable AAA draftees, the real meat comes from the Major League portion--the eligibility of which is decided tomorrow.

As of today--November 19th---the Mariners have only 34 names on their 40-man roster, leaving six spots for anyone they might want to protect. The only players in need of protection are those who either signed in 2009 at 18 or younger, and those who signed in 2010 and were 19 or younger. And amongst those, it's whoever needs protecting in the first place.

There are already a few names on the 40-man roster who would be unfamiliar to the casual fan. Amongst these--Anthony Fernandez, Xavier Avery, and Travis Witherspoon--the Mariners seem to be doing just what every other team does around this time of the year. They weren't active in last year's draft, and who knows what they plan to do this year, but it will be interesting to see if they add anyone to the roster before tomorrow's deadline--and who.

Tomorrow will bring us a little clarity on this, but until then they need to get adding. Who would you put on the roster?

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