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Mariners Rule 5 Draft Picks: A Story of Mostly Irrelevant Guys

The story of six guys who combined for -0.7 WAR

(BETTINA HANSEN / The Seattle Times)

In the spirit of former Mariner David Rollins capturing headlines this offseason for a rather unique reason, we’re taking a look at Rule 5 Draft Picks of Mariners past. If you aren’t aware of what the Rule 5 Draft is, or exactly how it works, you can check out an in-depth explanation here, but in short, it’s a draft in place to disallow major league organizations from stockpiling players on their minor league teams that other organizations would be willing to feature on the big league roster. If you don’t already know how this story ends, I will give you a fair warning now that this list consists of one exciting player and a bunch of guys that may (but probably will not) make you say “Ohhh yeahhh! I remember him!” Now that you’re good and excited, let’s meet these fellas!

*Player has not appeared at the major league level

Year Drafted Player MLB Career Innings Career WAR Accumulated
Year Drafted Player MLB Career Innings Career WAR Accumulated
2014 LHP David Rollins 34.1 -0.2
2011 LHP Lucas Luetge 89 -0.1
2010 RHP Jesus Flores 0 0*
2009 RHP Kanekoa Texeira 67.2 0.1
2008 IF Reegie Corona 0 0*
2007 RHP R.A. Dickey 1883.2 17.1

2014 – LHP David Rollins

After a three year hiatus from taking anyone in the Rule 5 Draft, the Mariners selected left-handed reliever David Rollins away from the Houston Astros organization in December of 2014, hoping he could become a key cog in a bullpen the relied on a 37-year-old Joe Beimel for 45 innings of work in 2014. Unfortunately, Rollins was suspended for 80 games after testing positive for PED’s before the season got under way, delaying his Mariners debut until July 4th. He logged 25 innings at the big league level, and posted an fWAR of 0 over that span. Rollins was optioned back to Triple-A Tacoma preceding the 2016 season, and went on to be recalled and subsequently optioned four times throughout the season before finally being claimed by the Chicago Cubs after being exposed to waivers in November of 2016. Rollins went on to make headlines this offseason by changing hands five times without logging a single inning for any club, and was most recently placed on waivers by the Cubs (again) back on Wednesday. Rolling—still just 27 years old—seems to have some degree of allure to big league clubs, and despite finally passing through waivers, may be given plenty of opportunities to land a gig in a major league bullpen this year.

2011- LHP Lucas Luetge

In December of 2011, Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik once again proclaimed his love for the Rule 5 Draft, plucking lefty reliever Lucas Luetge from the Milwaukee Brewers organization. Despite having a negative fWAR to date, Luetge had more success than anybody on this list while in a Mariners uniform. Back in 2012, he burst on to the scene donning a beautiful mullet, and the beloved jersey #44, and managed to post a 1.61 ERA and log 8.87 K/9 in the first half before he crashed back to earth in the second half with a 6.87 ERA. Perhaps his biggest claim to fame while with the M’s was his one out contribution to the combined no-hitter the team strung together against the Los Angeles Dodgers on June 8th, 2012. Luetge appeared in 63 games in his rookie campaign with Seattle, and went on to appear in an additional 48 from 2013-2015, working exclusively as a LOOGY. He’s since kicked around the Angels organization, and most recently signed a minor league deal with the Cincinnati Reds and will receive an invite to major league spring training.

2010 – RHP Jesus Flores

Flores checks in on this list as the only guy I have absolutely zero recollection of. Working almost his entire minor league career out of the bullpen, he flashed some good strikeout stuff but consistently struggled to command the strike zone. Failing to make the major league club, Flores we returned to the Cleveland Indians organization on March 25, 2011. At the age of 27 in 2016, Flores reached the high minors for the first time, logging 67.1 innings for Rieleros de Aguascalientes of the Mexican League. In December, the Giants signed him to a minor league deal, and assigned him to Triple-A Sacramento last month.

2009 – RHP Kanekoa Texeira

In 2010, the Mariners fielded one of their worst bullpens in recent memory. If you want to take a terrifying stroll down memory lane, you can check it out for yourself here. Appropriately so, the team allotted 18.2 innings to the right-handed Texeira, who posted a 5.79 ERA and 1.71 WHIP. After being designated for assignment in May of 2010, Texeira was claimed by the Kansas City Royals, for whom he went on to pitch 49 innings across 2010 and 2011. He hasn’t logged a big league inning since his 6.1 for the Royals in 2011, but logged 63.1 ineffective innings for the Atlanta Braves Triple-A affiliate last season as a 30 year old.

2008- IF Reegie Corona

The 2008 Mariners had a still-in-his-prime Ichiro who swiped 43 bases, joining Willie Bloomquist as the only two players who stole double-digit bases. Bloomquist—who stole 14 bases while serving as the primary backup infielder that season—departed for Kansas City in the offseason, and the M’s looked to the Rule 5 Draft to attempt to fill that “void” for the 2009 season. Corona was coming off of a season that saw him bat .274 and steal 24 bases in 129 games for the Yankees Double-A affiliate, the Trenton Thunder. After hitting .281 in 26 games at spring training, the M’s opted to send Corona back to the Yankees. After moving from the Yankees organization to the Nationals, Corona appears to have hung up his cleats following the 2015 season at the age of 28.

2007 – RHP R.A. Dickey

Far and away the most recognizable name on this list, Dickey was far from recognizable when the Mariners drafted him in December of 2007. Having still fairly recently devoted himself to perfecting the art of the knuckleball, Dickey was left off of the Minnesota Twins’ 40 man roster, making him a candidate to be selected in the draft, and the M’s did just that. After 32 games with Seattle—14 of which he started—Dickey had posted a 5.21 ERA, 1.56 WHIP, and -0.2 WAR. After refusing a minor league assignment following the season, Dickey became a free agent, and signed a minor league deal with the Twins, and went on to post a major league campaign almost identical to his 2008 stint in Seattle. Something clicked for the knuckleballer in 2009. After signing yet another minor league deal, this time with the New York Mets, Dickey was assigned to their Triple-A affiliate to start the season. Dickey went on to start 26 games for New York that year on the way to posting 2.7 WAR. He has started at least 29 games in every season since, highlighted by a 2012 season that saw him couple his 5.0 WAR with some hardware, winning the 2012 National League Cy Young Award. If there’s a silver lining here, it is that Seattle was only one of four organizations to pass up on the man who’d go on to be a major league mainstay.

The Rule 5 Draft has played out a bit differently in recent years than it did back when Jack Z was seemingly picking up a “Quad-A” player each offseason. Teams have since opted for approach targeting low level prospects, bargaining on the chance that they may reach their potential early and stick at the major league level. The Mariners chose to pass on selecting anyone in this offseason's iteration of the December draft, as they have in each year since current GM Jerry Dipoto took the reins of the organization. With a “win now” mentality, and an approach that takes full advantage of each of the 25 roster spots, the team would rather stick to in-house options when providing depth at the major league level.