Setting the M’s 40-man

Friday marks the day clubs have to have their rosters set — or “Reserve List” as it’s written in the CBA and regarded in terms of the Rule 5 Draft — which means players not already on the 40-man roster that are eligible for the Rule 5 process have to be added by November 20 or be exposed.

The criterion for qualifications is as follows:

  • Players signed to a pro deal when they were 19 or older and have been in pro ball for four years or more and not currently on the 40-man roster are eligible.
  • Players signed at 18 or younger that have been in pro ball for five years or more and not already on a 40-man roster are eligible.

Both parts of each criterion are required; simply having signed at 18 or 19 doesn’t mean the player played in pro ball that year. Often, almost exclusively with international signees that do not get big league deals, the club signs the player to a contract that does not begin until the following year. In these instances, the signing date can be deceiving.

Notes: Players that qualify for minor league free agency are not eligible for the Rule 5 Draft and are free to sign with any club… players selected must remain on the MLB 25-man roster for the entire year. The lone exceptions are when injuries prevent such status. If the player does not spend at least 90 days on the active 25-man roster (meaning he spent a lot of time of the disabled list) the remaining days carry over into the next season. Until the 90 days are met, the player cannot be optioned to the minor leagues. If the player is selected in the Rule 5, then traded, the Rule 5 requirements transfer… if the drafting team wants to move on from selected player, they must offer back the player to his original club, or work out a trade. If a trade is worked out, the Rule 5 roster requirements cease and the player can be sent to the minors.

The current Seattle Mariners Reserve List is at 39, including 21 pitchers, five infielders, nine outfielders and four catchers, suggesting they have room to make one addition. The club does have the option to outright a player from the 40-man to create more room, but it all has to be done by the deadline Friday.

The top candidates to be removed by way outside of a last-second trade include left-handers David Rollins and Edgar Olmos.

The top candidates to be added to the roster are:

Boog Powell, CF
Can’t see Powell being left off, as other clubs in need of a high probability outfielder, despite a limited upside, will undoubtedly be selected at the meetings next month. He’s 23 in January and a legit prospect the club believes has a shot to be the long-term center fielder.

Patrick Kivlehan, 1B/OF
Kivlehan, 26 in December, is the next-closest to a sure thing here, as he’s highly likely to be snagged by a club lacking depth at the corners and open space on their roster. Not that Kivlehan would be a great loss, but including him in trade is worth a lot more to the M’s than allowing him to go for nothing.

Tyler Marlette, C
Catchers without Triple-A experience rarely are selected in the big-league phase of the Rule 5 Draft, for obvious reasons, and I don’t expected Marlette to be protected or selected by another club. He’s still a legit prospect at 23 in January, but the jump to the big leagues would eat him alive at this stage.

Dario Pizzano, OF
Pizzano, 25 in April, has plate skills and a good idea at the plate, but he’s a corner defender with a light bat for that position corps. Highly unlikely he’s selected, at best a long shot to be protected.

Matt Anderson, RHP
The 24-year-old Anderson was a nice find by the Mariners, but he’s struggled to get outs consistently, particularly in a starting role. In relief, I’ve seen Anderson up to 96 with an above-average slider. He’s a long shot to be selected, although is more likely than Pizzano and Marlette, and I don’t believe the Mariners will protect him Friday.

Stephen Landazuri, RHP
Same goes for Landazuri, 24 in January, as Anderson; knows how to pitch, but is light on stuff — or as Jerry Dipoto might say, ‘he’s not as stuffy’ — and belongs in the minors.

Brian Moran, LHP
Moran, 27, was selected back in 2013 by the Dipot-led Angels, but he ended up needing Tommy John surgery and was sent back to Seattle. Moran creates terrific angles that baffle lefties and keep right-handed batters off balance, but that’s at the Triple-A level. He only occasionally tops 85 mph with his fastball, and it’s not clear whether or not he’s savvy enough with precise enough command to be effective in the majors. Where his arm strength after surgery remains to be seen, too, but he’s an interesting story on which to keep an eye, but it seems more than doubtful he’s protected or selected. He did pitch fairly well at Double-A Jackson last summer, but…

Initially there was some confusion as to whether or not Ji-Man Choi was eligible for the Rule 5 Draft if left unprotected. When the inquiry was sent the reply supplied to Prospect Insider was that Choi would indeed be eligible if not protected. The information was incorrect, because one week later, on October 15, Choi’s contract officially expired and he hit minor league free agency. Thanks to ‘wsm’ for pushing me to look into this a little further and figure it out.

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Jason A. Churchill

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