Astros: Rule 5 decision day passes to protect players

HOUSTON, TX - APRIL 04: Manager A.J. Hinch
HOUSTON, TX - APRIL 04: Manager A.J. Hinch /

With the Houston Astros winning the World Series, fans focus is still on 2017.

What a dramatic and exciting series between the Astros and Dodgers! Game 5 will go down as one of the best postseason games in history. With the Winter Meetings upon us at the beginning of December, it’s about to get busy.

The decisions that could affect 2018 and beyond started Monday night. Last night was the deadline to protect players from the Rule 5 Draft at the end of the Winter Meetings. To do so, you must add eligible players to the 40-man roster or risk losing them.

The players that were affected were not any of the top 10 prospects in the Astros system. There was not any drama like there was with Michael Feliz back in 2015. There were two players protected, one player traded, and two key players not protected.

Two who were protected.

The two players who were protected were both pitchers. Cionel Perez had to be added despite signing in 2017 because of his unusual signing. He could be a great left-handed reliever or a middle of the rotation arm. The 21-year-old shot up through the minor leagues last year, finishing with the Double-A Hooks.

Between his two stops, Perez went 6-4 with a 4.13 ERA, while striking out 83 hitters in 93 2/3 innings. Perez could be an option this Spring now that he is on the 40-man roster. He could be an impact arm in 2018 in the rotation or bullpen.

The other player protected is an intriguing one. I’m talking about Dean Deetz. While he was lights out with the Hooks (4-2 with a 1.82 ERA) last season, he struggled with the Fresno Grizzlies (3-4 with a 6.40 ERA. Because the Grizzlies play in a very hitting friendly league, it’s hard to get a feel as to who the real Deetz is.

What we do know is that he is a strikeout pitcher, striking out 97 hitters in 84 2/3 innings. He features a high-90’s fastball with a slider, which fits in with the mold of Astros pitchers. They will continue to develop him as a starter but could end up as a reliever.

The trade!

Jeff Luhnow is very creative. According to Jake Kaplan, instead of risking losing Ramon Laureano via the Rule 5, they traded him. After adding two players, the 40-man roster was filled. Laureano had a breakout year in 2016 but had a down season in 2017. However, Luhnow found someone that was interested in acquiring the outfielder.

The A’s and Astros made a trade involving Laureano, in return for a young righty Brandon Bailey. He was drafted in the 6th round of the 2016 draft. Bailey had reached High-A, has a career 3.16 ERA with a 6-3 record while striking out 166 hitters in 134 innings. This could be one of those Francis Martes type of pickups for Luhnow.

Those not protected.

Some of the names the Astros did not protect is Jon Kemmer and Jason Martin. Kemmer may be a little more well known to Astros fans having spent the past two seasons in Fresno. The Rule 5 Draft is for players like Kemmer, who don’t get opportunities with their current team. Kemmer is not a top prospect but has the potential of a solid backup outfielder on an MLB team.

Martin, on the other hand, seems likely that someone will pick him. He was drafted as a 17-year-old high school kid in the 6th round of the 2013 draft. Martin shows some power and speed potential, but some questions his defense. As the 15th top Astros prospect by MLB Pipeline, someone could take a chance on him.

Next: Look for Gattis to be the primary DH in 2018.

It has to be pointed out that teams passed on Chris Devenski and Teoscar Hernandez in the 2014 Rule 5 Draft (2015 season). Maybe Martin gets claimed, but the Astros have Josh Reddick and George Springer for a while, Kyle Tucker is on the way. Good luck to Kemmer and Martin and happy trails to Laureano. As always, go Astros!

***Stats from Baseball-Reference and MLB Pipeline***