Rule 5 Draft casualties
During last year’s Winter Meetings, the Cincinnati Reds picked up infielder Connor Joe in the Rule 5 Draft. It never panned out, and Joe was cut loose before the 2019 Opening Day roster was announced. There’s always the possibility that the Reds could add a player via the Rule 5 Draft, but it’s more likely that Cincinnati might lose a player.
According to MLB.com, players who signed with their current club at age 18 or younger and have played professionally for at least five years are eligible to be selected in the Rule 5 Draft, as are those who signed at 19 or older and have at least four years of professional experience. Any player picked up by another team during the Rule 5 Draft must be added to the 25-man roster.
So, who might that be? Well, you won’t see Tony Santillan, Tyler Stephenson, Tejay Antone, or Ryan Hendrix among those players selected, as the Reds assigned all four players to the 40-man roster last month in order to prevent another team from poaching the team’s minor league talent.
TJ Friedl might be the most likely player in the Reds organization to be selected by another team. Friedl was surprisingly left unprotected last month, but the outfielder has yet to play above the Double-A level. With the caveat of the Rule 5 Draft requiring teams to add a selected player to the 25-man roster, the Reds are banking on Friedl’s inexperience keeping him off other team’s radars.
Cather Chris Okey, shortstop Alfredo Rodriguez, and outfielder Michael Beltre are also possibilities, but Friedl is the highest rated player among those mentioned. It’s always a gamble to leave certain players unprotected, but the Reds have a lot of minor league outfielders with a similar skillset to Friedl. Perhaps that’s why he was left off the 40-man roster.