Mariners: Rule 5 Draft-Eligible Players to Keep an Eye On

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YOKOHAMA, JAPAN - AUGUST 07: Outfielder Eric Filia #5 of Team United States reacts after hit by pitch in the sixth inning against Team Japan during the gold medal game between Team United States and Team Japan on day fifteen of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Yokohama Baseball Stadium on August 07, 2021 in Yokohama, Kanagawa, Japan. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)
YOKOHAMA, JAPAN - AUGUST 07: Outfielder Eric Filia #5 of Team United States reacts after hit by pitch in the sixth inning against Team Japan during the gold medal game between Team United States and Team Japan on day fifteen of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Yokohama Baseball Stadium on August 07, 2021 in Yokohama, Kanagawa, Japan. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images) /
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By November 19th, major league teams must add minor league players to their 40-man roster who are eligible for the Rule 5 Draft, otherwise they will risk those players falling to other teams in the draft. For the casual fan, the Rule 5 Draft consists of players signed at age 18 or younger who have not beed added to their team’s 40-man roster within five seasons, and players signed at age 19 or older who have not been added to the 40-man roster within four seasons.

After a player is selected in the Rule 5 Draft, they must be assigned to their new team’s 25-man roster, or else they will be returned to their original team. So, teams only draft players in the Rule 5 Draft that they are confident could contribute to their major league team the next season.

Over the past few seasons, the Seattle Mariners have primarily selected relief pitchers with their Rule 5 Draft picks; they selected Will Vest from the Tigers in 2020, Yohan Ramirez from the Astros in 2019, and Brandon Brennan from the Rockies in 2018. So far, Ramirez has been the most successful of the bunch, and appears to be a key cog in Seattle’s bullpen moving forward.

The Mariners have a few difficult decisions to make ahead of this year’s Rule 5 Draft.

Currently, Seattle has 36 non-injured players on their 40-man roster, and two of them are not likely to be on the roster after the World Series ends in early November: Kyle Seager and Tyler Anderson. So, with six open spots on the 40-man roster and potential offseason additions expected in the near future, only a few solid minor leaguers will be able to be added in the next few weeks to avoid becoming available in the Rule 5 Draft.

The most obvious addition will be Julio Rodriguez, the #2 overall prospect in baseball and the face of the Mariners’ future. After Rodriguez, though, there will be a lot of difficult decisions; U.S. Olympian Eric Filia, Darin Gillies, Ray Kerr, Jack Larsen, Luis Liberato, Brian O’Keefe, Joe Rizzo, Jake Scheiner, and Devin Sweet are the most notable names who will be eligible to be added to the Rule 5 Draft if they are not on the Mariners’ 40-man roster on November 19th.

As relief pitchers are the most commonly selected players in the Rule 5 Draft, I believe the Mariners will add Ray Kerr and Darin Gillies to the roster; Kerr is a lanky lefty with an overpowering fastball who dominated in AA this year, and Gillies was recently voted a Double-A All-Star after posting a 1.93 ERA with 10 saves in Arkansas this season.

Beyond Rodriguez, Kerr, and Gillies – the Mariners are going to need to take their chances. A few players on their current 40-man roster could be traded this offseason to open up a few spots, but Seattle is expected to have several players back from injury by Spring Training, which will only narrow the margin on the roster.

The Rule 5 Draft will take place at the end of MLB’s Winter Meetings in early December; if you have any favorite Mariner minor leaguers, you may want to keep an eye on it.

Next. Mariners: Trading for All-Star Catcher Willson Contreras. dark

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