Waiting on the Rule 5 draft to wrap up the Winter Meetings

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - The stampede for the front desk and the airport begins momentarily. Keep your head on a swivel if you’re in the lobby area or you could be wearing foot prints as a shirt logo.

Cutting through the speculation that the Orioles could abstain from the Rule 5 draft this morning due to carrying outfielder Anthony Santander for 44 more days, they most definitely will make a selection in the major league phase and probably go with multiple picks in the minor league phase.

Executive vice president Dan Duquette knows that the Orioles can’t keep two Rule 5 picks plus Santander, but there’s nothing to stop them from making multiple selections again and picking one. They took Santander and outfielder Aneury Tavárez last winter and came away with pitchers Jason García (via trade) and Logan Verrett in 2014. Santander and García made the cut.

Santander-White-Sidebar.jpgHowever, I’m expecting the Orioles to resist the temptation to select two players.

“That would be tough, but we’ll have to see,” Duquette said. “I think we’ve got some spots if we decide to go in that direction. But it would be tough given that we already have one.”

The 40-man roster currently stands at 34 and the running joke here is they’ll take six players.

“We already have Santander on the roster so I think that limits our overall flexibility,” Duquette said, “but it’s something we’ve been working on all week and we’ll continue to work on it to see if there’s a fit for us.

“Some of the clubs that have been very aggressive on the international market, they may have more depth to their organization than what they can protect on their 40-man roster. So to the extent that the clubs are active on the international market gives us another crack at some of those players, the Rule 5 does.”

So there really is a benefit to abstaining from international signings. Stop your complaining!

Seriously though, the club will take a pitcher and prefers to find a left-handed reliever with plus velocity. A power arm to complement Richard Bleier.

Not compliment, as in, “Hey, nice slider.”

“We’ve looked at a lot of pitchers for the Rule 5, given that we have Santander already on the roster,” Duquette said. “We’re going to see if there’s a fit in the pitchers we’ve looked at.”

I’ve mentioned interest in Austin Davis, 24, from the Phillies organization. He was a combined 6-2 with a 2.60 ERA in 42 appearances with Single-A Clearwater and Double-A Reading, with 75 strikeouts in 69 1/3 innings. I heard his name in the lobby a few days ago.

“We’ll take a look if there’s anybody there who can help us,” Duquette said.

There’s speculation that the Orioles could take an injured pitcher who’d begin the season on the disabled list, as Santander did, and decrease the roster burden. It’s been discussed.

Left-hander Luis Gonzalez probably is the most vulnerable Oriole to be selected in the draft.

Gonzalez, 25, was 6-2 with a 2.47 ERA and 1.02 WHIP in 36 relief appearances at Single-A Frederick and opponents hit .173 against him. He didn’t give up an earned run in 9 2/3 innings in the Arizona Fall League, and his fastball touches the mid-90s.

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