Hot Stove Week 3 – The 40-Man Roster
Coming off of a week in which Ian Desmond rejected the Rangers’ Qualifying Offer of one year at $17.2 million, MLB Free Agency is completely underway without any further impediments. (Unless you count that big thing called the Collective Bargaining Agreement that has to be settled by December 1st; I suppose that’s a big deal.)
Across the league, two players accepted their Qualifying Offers. Neil Walker will return to the New York Mets. In a surprising move, Jeremy Hellickson accepted the Phillies’ Qualifying Offer and will stay in Philadelphia. Hellickson was briefly thought of as a target for Jon Daniels and company. It was widely thought that, even if he didn’t get an Average Annual Value of $17.2 million, he would have gotten multiple years. As it is, Texas will have to look elsewhere to augment its Major League rotation. For now, there are other roster moves the Rangers have to consider.
November 18th – Who Will Be Protected?
Friday, November 18th is the deadline for teams to add players to its 40-Man Roster. The 40-Man Roster is the list of players who are signed to Major League contracts and can be added to the Active 25-Man Roster at any point during the season. At this point in the off-season, the 40-Man Roster includes players who will be on the 60-Day Disabled List to start the year. Typically during the year, 60-Day DL players are not included on the 40-Man. If a team wishes to take a player off the 40-Man to make room for someone else (purchasing their contract), they must Designate that player For Assignment. We’ll get more into that at a later date.
What does it mean for the Rangers?
Currently, the Rangers’ 40-Man Roster stands at 37. This includes Prince Fielder, who declared himself permanently unable to play. This is where the distinction of “unable to play” and “retirement” comes in.
Had Prince decided to retire, in the true sense of the word, he would not be taking up a spot on the 40-Man Roster spot. He also wouldn’t be earning any money guaranteed to him over the next four seasons. As such, he did not retire, and he is on the 40-Man. He will be moved to the 60-Day DL before the start of the season. That will open up a roster spot at that point, but for now, he’s taking up a slot.
Adrian Sampson is another player occupying a 40-Man Roster slot that will begin the season on the 60-Day DL. The right-handed pitcher was acquired from Seattle, having undergone flexor tendon surgery (think Colby Lewis, circa 2012). The Rangers see something in the player who pitched 4.2 innings for Seattle last season. Unfortunately, they won’t know what they actually have until he recovers from surgery.
For the purposes of Friday’s deadline, the Rangers have the option of adding three names to the 40-Man. Since the World Series ended, Carlos Gomez, Carlos Beltran, Derek Holland and Ian Desmond have already been cast into Free Agency. In that time, Jon Daniels has already added the two aforementioned names in their spots and has the ability to add a few more.
Nobody on the 40-Man is guaranteed their spot, but for now, they are under the protection of the Rangers.
Protection? From what?
December 8th – The Rule 5 Draft
December 8th does not fall during the third week of Hot Stove, but the moves made Friday will affect what happens then. On the final day of the Winter Meetings, taking place in National Harbor, Maryland, the Rule 5 Draft takes place. During this draft, General Managers may purchase a player from any team in the Majors for $50,000 AS LONG AS:
- That player was signed at age 18 and has played for five years, OR
- That player was signed at age 19 or older and has played for four years, AND
- That player is NOT on his organization’s 40-Man Roster.
We’ll get more into the Rule 5 Draft as the date approaches, but a team does NOT have to draft a player during this process. Additionally, if a 40-Man Roster is full on December 8th, that team is not allowed to make a pick.
What does it mean for the Rangers?
This is where those three open spots come into play.
Texas could wait until December 8th and make a pick in the Rule 5 Draft. Delino Deshields (Astros) and Shawn Tolleson (Dodgers) are the most recent examples of impactful Rule 5 Draft picks that Texas made.
Odubel Herrera is the most recent example of an impactful player taken from Texas in the Rule 5 Draft. Herrera went to the Phillies and has been a staple in the Philadelphia outfield for the past two seasons.
A player taken in the Rule 5 Draft must remain on the 25-Man Active roster for the entirety of the following season. They must also be active for a minimum of 90 days. If that player ends up losing his spot, he must be offered back to his original team at half the cost – $25,000. If the original team doesn’t want him either, he goes on waivers. It’s not often that a player taken in the Rule 5 Draft makes an impact, but the potential is there.
If Texas ends up signing a Free Agent player before December 8th (don’t bet on it) and still wants to play in the Rule 5 Draft, they would still have a couple of spots to play with.
As far as dates go during the Winter, the next significant date is December 1st. By then, we may have a completely new Collective Bargaining Agreement to talk about. With that will likely be a completely new set of rules for drafting and signing players.