Which Cincinnati Reds players would be protected if the Rule 5 Draft is cancelled?

Cincinnati Reds prospect Nick Howard.
Cincinnati Reds prospect Nick Howard. / Rich Pilling/GettyImages

Kiley McDaneil and Jeff Passan of ESPN report that multiple teams have inquired with the league about the possibility of canceling the Rule 5 Draft for this season. Which Cincinnati Reds players would be protected?

The Rule 5 Draft allows players who are not on a team's 40-man roster, that meet certain criteria, to be claimed by another club. The fear among executives is that opposing scouts will get new and additional information and be able to pluck some talented players off a team's roster for virtually nothing.

Which Reds players are protected if the Rule 5 Draft is cancelled?

No one on the Cincinnati Reds 40-man roster is eligible for the Rule 5 Draft, so don't worry about Jonathan India, Tyler Stephenson, or Hunter Greene finding a home elsewhere. Several young prospects haven't reached Rule 5 eligibly yet either, so players like Nick Lodolo and Matt McLain are off limits. So who's left?

While those eligible for the Rule 5 Draft are not the most robust collection of talent, there are some players who've lingered in the minors for years and have yet to reach their potential. Cincinnati grabbed Kyle Holder during last year's Rule 5 Draft and snagged Mark Payton the year before that. Holder didn't make the cut last spring and Payton is currently a free agent.

Chris Okey might be the biggest name among those on the Cincinnati Reds roster who'll be protected if the Rule 5 Draft is cancelled. The Clemson product is in minor league spring training right now and is hoping to latch on as the backup catcher on this year's Reds squad. Okey is a former second-round pick.

Leonardo Rivas is another player who'd be protected if Major League Baseball cancels this year's Rule 5 Draft. Acquired in the deal that sent Raisel Iglesias to the Los Angeles Angels last winter, Rivas posted a wRC+ of 110 at Double-A Chattanooga last season.

Michael De Leon, Robbie Tenerowicz, and Debby Santana will all be protected if the Rule 5 Draft is cancelled. De Leon showed great power at Triple-A Louisville last season. Tenerowicz is as fun to watch as any player in the minor leagues, and Santana has a lot of raw potential, but has yet to find success in the minors.

Two former high-end prospects who've never found success, yet would be eligible for the Rule 5 Draft if MLB does not cancel it are shortstop Alfredo Rodriguez and former first-round pick Nick Howard. Rodriguez has eminence talent in the field, but struggles at the dish.

Next. Ranking every Reds player on the 40-man roster. dark

Howard, the No. 19 overall selection in the 2014 MLB Draft, was once a Top 3 prospect in the Reds farm system, but injuries and inconsistency have prevented the now 28-year-old from ever reaching his potential. Last season, while splitting time between Double-A Chattanooga and Triple-A Louisville, Howard posted a 25.8% strikeout-rate, but also a walk-rate of 18.2%.