DALLAS - The Nationals will have to change their plans for the Rule 5 draft, which will be held at 10 a.m. Thursday, the last activity at baseball’s Winter Meetings. The Nationals, who have picked first in the past two Rule 5 drafts, will have the 16th selection.
General manager Mike Rizzo said the Nationals are weighing whether to make a selection. At the Orlando Winter Meetings last year, they took relievers Brian Broderick from the Cardinals (with the 16th pick in the first round) and Elvin Ramirez from the Mets (with the sixth pick in the first round). Broderick stuck out at spring training, struggled when used and was sent back to St. Louis in May; Ramirez battled injuries, spent all year on the 60-day disabled list and was sent back to New York on Oct. 18.
“I think we’re in a little bit different position than we’ve been in the last,” Rizzo said. “We’re still doing our due diligence on the (draft) board. If you were in the room, you’d see the work we’re doing. We’re going to put together our (preference) list and see if there’s a fit and see if there’s any roster constraints that would allow us to have a Rule 5 pick or keep us from making one.”
Rizzo said he had no preference whether the Nats took a pitcher or a position player. Anyone selected by Washington must remain on the 25-man roster for the entire season or be offered back to his original club for half the $50,000 draft price.
Not only must the Nationals consider whether they want to make a selection, but they have to worry whether one of the minor leaguers they chose not to keep on their 40-man roster might be snagged by another club.
Players are eligible for the Rule 5 draft if they are not on the 40-man roster and have either spent four years or more in the organization after signing at 19 or older, or spent five years in the organization after signing at 18 or younger. Last year, Washington lost infielder Michael Martinez, who was picked by the Phillies.
Right-hander Brad Meyers, who posted a 3.18 ERA between Double-A Harrisburg and Triple-A Syracuse last season, may draw some interest.