Major League teams have until 8 p.m. ET on Nov. 20 to decide which prospects they will add to their 40-man roster to protect from the upcoming Rule 5 Draft.
The playoffs left off the 40-man roster will be exposed to the Rule 5 Draft that will take place on Dec. 14 at the Winter Meetings in Orlando, Florida.
The New York Mets haven’t been active in the Rule 5 recently with the last time they drafted someone in the major league phase being left-handed pitcher Sean Gilmartin in 2014.
Gilmartin had a 4.14 ERA and 1.34 WHIP in parts of three big league seasons for the Mets before he was picked up on waivers by the St. Louis Cardinals earlier this year.
The last time they lost a player in the draft was in 2015 when the Cardinals selected right-hander Matt Bowman. The 26-year-old has posted a 3.70 ERA and 1.18 WHIP in two seasons on the major league level.
Before we get into what players I believe the Mets will protect from the draft let’s take a look at makes all the rules regarding the draft.
- Players who were signed when they were 19 or older and have played in professional baseball for four years are eligible, as are players who were signed at 18 and have played for five years.
- All players on a Major League Baseball team’s 40-man roster, regardless of other eligibility factors, are “protected” and ineligible for the Rule 5 Draft.
- Team that selects a player in the Rule 5 Draft pays $50,000 to the team from which he was selected. Receiving team must then keep the player on the Major League 25-man roster for the entirety of the next season, and the selected player must remain active for a minimum of 90 days. If the player does not remain on the Major League roster, he is offered back to the team from which he was selected for $25,000. If his original team declines, the receiving team may waive the player.
This is going to be an interesting year to see who the Mets protect given that the bullpen needs depth and a good portion of the players that need to be added had strong seasons in the pen.
First let’s take a look at the list of players the Mets need to protect.
- Logan Taylor, Tyler Bashlor, Mickey Jannis, Ricky Knapp, Corey Oswalt, Tim Peterson, Adonis Uceta, Gerson Bautista, Andrew Church, Mike Gibbons, Alex Palsha, Josh Prevost, Matt Blackham, Darwin Ramos, Johnny Magliozzi, Nicolas Debora, Nabil Crismatt
- Jeff McNeil, Jhoan Urena, L.J. Mazzilli, Matt Oberste, Luis Carpio, Luis Guillorme, Walter Rasquin, Hansel Moreno, Rigoberto Terrazas, Phillip Evans
The Mets current 40-man roster is sitting 35 players meaning they can choose to protect up to five players in they want to. Have to also keep in mind that the Mets are likely to add a few players on major league deals this offseason that will need to be added to the 40.
Of the Mets eligible group I only have two players that I think are locks; defensive wizard Luis Guillorme and reigning Eastern League Pitcher of the Year Corey Oswalt.
Guillorme, 23, hit .283/.376/.331 with 20 doubles, one home run, four stolen bases and 72 walks compared to only 55 strikeouts in Double-A for the Binghamton Rumble Ponies. He’s already major league ready defensive at shortstop and second player, he also played some third. His on-base skills and defense makes him have the floor of a major league reserve and that’s not something the Mets can risk losing.
Oswalt, 24, led the Eastern League with a 2.28 ERA while going 12-5 as the ace of the playoff bound Rumble Ponies. He allowed only 118 hits in 134.1 innings and a 8.0 K/9 rate. His 0.60 HR/9 was sixth in the league and his 14.4 K-BB% was third. He uses a fastball in the 91-94 MPH range with his best secondary being a curve.
The Mets starting pitching depth is non-existent in the upper minors which we saw last year with them rushing Chris Flexen to the majors. Oswalt will start the year in Triple-A and could be one of the first call ups if the Mets need a starter. Jannis pitched great in the second half of the season for Binghamton and in the AFL but I don’t see a knuckleballer getting taken in the Rule 5.
Now this is where things get interesting because the Mets have a few bullpen arms that were lights out last year but they already added Jacob Rhame, Jamie Callahan, Kevin McGowan and Chasen Bradford to the 40 in the second half of last season. They’re also likely to sign at least one reliever to a major league deal and possibly two, leaving the question how many relievers do you want on the 40?
Bashlor, 24, led the entire minor leagues with his 15.22 K/9 and throws in the mid-to-upper 90’s with his fastball, that is the profile that will jump out to teams looking at who to draft. Another number that will jump out is his 1.80 FIP across two levels with the St. Luice Mets and Binghamton. He allowed only one home run and 40 hits in 49.2 innings this year.
Uceta, 23, had a breakout season after moving to the bullpen and posted a 1.51 ERA, 0.91 WHIP and 10.1 K/9 in 59.2 innings over three levels. He held opponents to a remarkable .164 average, picked up 14 saves and had a streak of 36 innings this year without allowing an earned run. The right-handed Uceta features a fastball that sits 93-95 and hit 99 MPH this year while also throwing a plus changeup.
Bautista, 22, came over to the Mets from the Boston Red Sox in the Addison Reed trade and was lights out in his 14.1 innings for St. Lucie. He allowed only 10 hits, walked just three and struck out 20 on his way to picking up five saves. The former starter was consistently hitting 98-99 MPH with his fastball and topped out at 101. Big improvement for him was his 5.6 BB/9 for the Red Sox in 2017 dropping down to 1.9 BB/9 with the Mets.
Blackham, 24, is another former start that excelled in his full-time move to the pen in 2017 with a 1.43 ERA in 56.2 innings. His 1.74 FIP was tied for the ninth lowest in the minors in 2017. He also struck out 82 batters and didn’t allow a home run. Not bad for a guy that missed the entire 2016 season after having surgery to repair a fracture of the olecranon in the right elbow.
Given the Mets situation with relievers on the 40 I believe they will take two pitchers from this group which will be Bashlor and Bautista. Both guys have high-octane fastballs that catch the eye of other teams in the draft and also the type the Mets could use in their bullpen.
My final prediction for who the Mets protect is Guillorme, Oswalt, Bashlor and Bautista. With Uceta, Blackham, Peterson, Jannis, Urena and Logan Taylor receiving consideration as well.