How possibly losing Rule 5 Draft affects Astros prospects

Mandatory Credit: Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports /

How would the cancellation of the 2021 Major League Baseball Rule 5 Draft affect current Astros prospects?

As the Major League Baseball lockout drags on, the difficulty of coming to an agreement becomes more and more challenging, because not only do the MLBPA and MLB have to come to agreement on the core issues that are in the news each day and have plagued the sport for years, but additional items are being added to the seemingly never ending list to solve.

Another baseball institution affected by the lockout is the major-league phase of the Rule 5 Draft, which is collectively bargained and usually takes place in December. The lockout instituted by the owners in early December of 2021 means the 2021 Rule 5 draft has not yet happened.

If you’re not familiar with the Rule 5 Draft, it’s designed as a mechanism to stop organizations from stockpiling talent in the minor leagues, by allowing teams to pick certain non-40 man roster players from other teams for $100,000.

The trick is the picked players must remain on the 26-man roster of the team that picked them for a full season, or placed on waivers. If a player clears waivers, he must be offered back to the original team for $50,000.

While most of these players toil in anonymity and are offered back to their original teams, there are those that benefit from the procedure, Akil Baddoo of the Detroit Tigers, who was drafted from Minnesota Twins in December 2020, being a recent example.

A report from ESPN indicated that several clubs have reached out to MLB about canceling the Rule 5 Draft for this season, because teams are fearful of losing their talent due to the lockout providing additional time to scout minor league players. This has led to 16 teams barring scouts from their facilities.

The cancellation of the Rule 5 Draft for this year would have more far-reaching effects than just the few players selected, as it complicates trades, free agency and, in general, the stability of the 40-man roster by adding one more unknown to an already complicated process.

There is one thought process that posits this may be one item the MLBPA and MLB could agree on, as canceling the Rule 5 Draft for this season would theoretically leave more jobs open for veteran free agents to fill. That number would be rather small as only six of the 17 total players selected in 2020 stuck with the selecting club through the year.

What does the Astros most recent Rule 5 Draft history look like?

In the 2020 Rule 5 Draft, the Houston Astros lost right-handed pitcher Jose Rivera to the Los Angeles Angels in the first round. Rivera was eventually returned to the Astros organization and pitched for High-A Asheville last season before being injured.

There is also a Triple-A phase of the draft, where, in 2020, the Astros lost centerfielder Drew Ferguson to the New York Mets.

A few picks later Houston selected right handed pitcher Joe Record from the Twins. Because the Triple-A phase does not involve players on the major league 40-man rosters, it went on as scheduled this past December.

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In the first round, the Astros lost Ronnie Dawson to the Reds with the thirteenth pick and then selected right-handed pitcher Ruben Garcia from the Tigers ten picks later.

In the second round, the Astros lost right-handed pitchers Brett Daniels to the Guardians and Manny Ramirez to the Yankees.