The Major League portion of the Rule 5 has concluded and the New York Mets didn’t have an unprotected player drafted and didn’t select a player.
The Mets also passed in the Triple-A portion of the draft. They had two players taken from their minor leagues, lefty reliever Paul Paez was drafted by the Seattle Mariners and lefty reliever Adrian Almeida was taken by the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
Original Report – Dec 7
The Rule 5 Draft takes place Thursday morning as the culmination of the 2016 Winter Meetings in Maryland. It will be streamed live on MLB.com at 9:00 a.m. ET.
The New York Mets currently have a full 40-man roster so they will not be able to draft a player. However, there is a good chance of them losing one player and possibly more after deciding to protect high ceiling players instead of those close to being major league ready. They added Amed Rosario, Wuilmer Becerra, Tomas Nido, Marcos Molina and Chris Flexen to their 40-man roster to protect them from the draft.
Before we get into the players the Mets could lose, let’s go over the rules of the draft because they’ve changed in the new Collective Bargaining Agreement.
Under the new CBA, Major League Rule 5 picks will cost the selecting team $100,000, which is double the $50,000 that had previously been the amount. Triple-A Rule 5 picks will cost the selecting team $24,000, again double the previous amount.
In brief, the drafted player must stay on the team’s 25 man roster he is drafted by (or traded to) for the entire season, or must be on the active roster for 90 days if they serve time on the disabled list. If the drafting team decides they don’t wish to keep the player on the 25-man roster they have to put him on waivers and then offer him back to his original team for $50,000 if he passes through.
As mentioned above, the Mets currently have a 40-man roster and Sandy Alderson said during his press conference on Wednesday night that it’s unlikely that they take a player in the Major League portion. However, the Mets were also said to be discussing players they could take in the Triple-A phase on Wednesday night. The Double-A portion of the draft was eliminated in the recently finished CBA.
The Triple-A portion of the draft doesn’t have the same roster restrictions. Once the player is taken, they become the property of that organization. One of the most notable picks the Mets have made in the AAA phase is right-handed pitcher Henry Owens in 2003. The most recent example of success in the minor league Rule 5 is when the Miami Marlins selected Justin Bour in 2013.
Now let’s take a look at some players the Mets have left vulnerable to being selected on Thursday morning:
Phillip Evans INF – The utility infielder continues to get the most buzz among Mets players left unprotected including being a part of Baseball America’s ”Cream of the Crop”. He had a breakout 2016 season when he hit .335/.374/.485 and won the Eastern League batting title for the Double-A Binghamton Mets.
The 24-year old is also hitting .311/.386/.446 in the Puerto Rico Winter League. Prior to 2016, Evans had four straight seasons with an OPS lower than .700. He can play shortstop, second base and third base.
Paul Sewald RHP – The reliever with a nasty slider that has dominated his entire minor league career with a 2.20 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, and 66 saves in 72 chances. The 26-year old continues to post strong strikeout numbers, 80 in 65.2 innings this year for the Las Vegas 51s, despite a fastball that tops out in the low 90′s. He is mentioned in BA’s Rule 5 preview under the Enough Stuff, Good Control category, similar to former Mets’ prospect and 2015 draftee Matt Bowman.
Sewald admitted during an interview with me that he went to pitch in the Mexican Winter League in hopes of opening eyes in other organizations. He pitched to a 3.32 ERA, 0.84 WHIP and 11 saves in 19 innings for the Naranjeros de Hermosillo.
Other players that could intrigue teams include right-handed starter Ricky Knapp (2.69 ERA, 1.14 WHIP over 3 levels in 2016), right-handed reliever Kevin McGowan (95-97 MPH fastball, successful move to bullpen), outfielder Champ Stuart (two plus tools in speed/defense), right-handed starter Nabil Crismatt (2.47 ERA in 2016, plus changeup) and right-handed reliever Tyler Bashlor (Heavy upper 90’s fastball).
Ultimately, I think there is a good chance that Evans gets taken while the buzz for Sewald has died down some recently. Knapp would be a similar pick to Bowman when talking about stuff and upside, but doesn’t have the upper level experience that Matt had.
Some names to keep an eye on from around the league that could get drafted are shortstop Zach Vincej, right-handed pitcher Aaron Slegers, outfielder Andrew Pullin, right-handed pitcher Justin Haley, infielder Eric Wood, and left-handed pitcher Ryan Sherriff.
The Minnesota Twins kick off the draft since they finished with Major League Baseball’s worst record. Expect the San Diego Padres to be active as they’ve been the past few years and have the third pick. The Baltimore Orioles are another team that have a recent history of drafting players and they currently have four open spots on their 40-man roster.