Today is the final day for teams to set their 40-man roster to protect players from the Rule 5 draft. The Yankees added five players to their roster, RHP’s David Phelps, D.J. Mitchell, OF Zoilo Almonte, and IF’s Corban Joseph and David Adams, according to Chad Jennings of the Journal News.
The Rule 5 draft is meant to keep useful players from getting stuck in the minor leagues. There are exceptions to the rule, but for the most part any high school players drafted on or before 2007 and college players drafted on or before 2008 that are not on the 40-man roster are eligible to be drafted. International free agents are also subject to this draft, but the rules for them aren’t as clear for them. The catch is that any players selected in the draft have to be kept on the major league roster all season long or be offered back to their original teams.
This leaves all of the big name players in the Yankees minor league system that are open to the draft protected (Guys like Manny Banuelos and Adam Warren are not yet eligible). The one interesting exception is switch-pitcher Pat Venditte.
Venditte has put up excellent numbers throughout minor leagues, but has never really been considered a prospect because of fear that his stuff wouldn’t play up to the higher levels. He seems like a near lock to get drafted as somebody will want to take him just to watch him in action. Although there is a good chance that he would be returned, it does seem as if he might have thrown his last pitch for the Yankees organization.
The five guys they picked to protect are no-brainers. It was a little surprising that they protected all five as it doesn’t leave them with much extra space on the 40-man roster, but roster changes happen all the time. Adams is probably the most surprising just because he has practically sat out the last year and a half with an injury that typically takes about two-three months to heal (broken ankle). However, the kids can hit and probably would have been taken in the draft.
The addition of Almonte to the 40-man roster leads me to believe that the Yankees won’t have one of three outfielders on their roster come spring training – Chris Dickerson, Greg Golson, or Justin Maxwell. Melky Mesa is also on the 40-man roster, but my guess is that the Yankees would give him a little more time before cutting ties with him.