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Rule 5 Draft: Baseball Terminology

The Rule 5 Draft in Major League Baseball is a way to prevent teams from stockpiling young talent and keeping them in the minor leagues. We’ll get into more details, but basically at the end of the Winter Meetings, a draft is held where eligible players include those not on a team’s 40-man roster. If a player is selected he must remain on his new team’s 25-man roster for the entire of the following season.

Most fans know about the first-year player draft held in June each year. This is where teams draft amateur high school and college prospects. It is the equivalent of a draft in other sports. The equivalent of the Rule 5 Draft would be an NFL team signing a player off of another team’s practice squad, or an NBA team signing a player out of the G-League.

While teams in the other sports can sign players at any point in the season, the Rule 5 Draft is held once a year. Teams must establish a 40-man roster prior, and those without room on the roster cannot make a selection in the draft.

Rule 5 Draft Baseball TerminologyNot all players are eligible to be selected. Players on a 40-man roster are protected. Players who signed at 18 with five years of experience are eligible as are players signed at 19 with four years of experience.

A team making a selection in the Rule 5 Draft pays $100,000. If the player is placed on waivers during the season, he can either be claimed by another team (and remain in Rule 5 status) or offered back to his original team for $50,000. The original team can accept the player or refuse him and keep the original money paid.

Teams may trade a player taken in the Rule 5 Draft, but the new ball club must keep the player on the active roster for the entirety of the season.

If a Rule 5 selection is injured, he is allowed time on the DL to rehab. However, he must spend 90 days on the active roster before being removed from Rule 5 status. This can carry over from year to year, so a player must either be on the active roster, on the DL, or waived/traded.

The draft order is based on the inverse standings of the regular season. Each team may either make a selection or pass, and the draft is over once all teams have passed.

There is also a Triple-A phase of the Rule 5 Draft. The cost of these picks is only $24,000, and the player can be sent to any level within the organization.

While there are rarely players who suddenly make a career jump after being chosen in the Rule 5 Draft and promoted to the big leagues, there have been notable names in previous drafts. Some of these names include Roberto Clemente, Johan Santana, and Dan Uggla.

A player chosen in the Rule 5 Draft gets the chance he has been waiting for – to go to The Show. The reaction may not be the same as being told in the clubhouse by a minor league manager, but it is a call-up nonetheless. It gives players the opportunity to prove themselves at the major league level when they may not have the chance to otherwise with their original club.

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