The final day of the 2015 Winter Meetings are here and the Rule 5 Draft has come and past. The Padres made several moves at this year’s draft that may have some interesting implications for next season. Before we get into who the Padres ended up with, it helps to understand all the rules and intricacies of the Rule 5 Draft.
The Rule 5 Draft is structured as so: as with the June Amateur Draft, the selection order is in reverse order of the previous season’s win-loss record for each round. So the team with the worst record picks first and so on. A team can only pick a player in the draft if they have an open 40-man roster spot.
If a player is selected by a team, he must remain on that team’s 25-man roster for the entirety of the next season, or he must be offered back to the previous team for a small sum. Some other restrictions apply for the players selected, such as the requirement that a player must be active for at least 90 days during the season, but these are the most important restrictions.
As for which players can be selected in the Rule 5 Draft, there are several important requirements. Players are eligible for the Rule 5 Draft if they are not on a team’s 40-man roster and meet one of the following requirements: were 18 or younger on the June 5 preceding their signing and this is the fifth Rule 5 draft upcoming; or were 19 or older on the June 5 preceding their signing and this is fourth Rule 5 draft upcoming. If a player meets one of these two requirements, and is not currently a member of the 40-man roster, they can be selected by any team during the draft. The last important rule to understand is that each draftee comes with a $50,000 cost and could be offered back to their original team for half that price if they do not stick on the 40-man roster for the entire season.
With the rules, regulations, and requirements of the Rule 5 Draft all laid out, we can now get into which players the Padres selected and what their selections mean for next year’s roster. Going into the Rule 5 Draft, the Padres had four open spots on their 40-man roster. Coming out of the draft, all those spots are now filled. What follows is a mini-profile on each of the four selected players.
Josh Martin, RHP, Cleveland Indians
With the #8 selection in the first round of the Rule 5 Draft, the Padres selected reliever Josh Martin from the Cleveland Indians. Martin is a 25-year-old who pitched mostly in relief for the Indians Double AA affiliate last season. Martin finished the season with a 2.27 ERA in 44 games and 67 1/3 innings pitched last season. He also had nearly 11 K/9 and also had a WHIP under 1.00. With the Padres bullpen being in a state of flux following the trades of Craig Kimbrel and Joaquin Benoit, it seems like a safe bet that Martin will be given the chance to earn a job in Spring Training.
Blake Smith, RHP, Chicago White Sox
With the fifth selection in the second round of the Rule 5 Draft, the Padres selected outfielder turned reliever Blake Smith from the Chicago White Sox. Blake is a 27-year-old who spent half of his season in Double AA last season and half of his season in Triple AAA, after converting to a pitcher full time during the 2014 season. Smith pitched well to the tune of a 3.30 ERA in 30 innings pitched with over 12.5 K/9 and 42 strikeouts, which are both quite impressive numbers. Smith had some struggle with command, walking over four batters per nine innings, which could pose a problem for his long term prospects as a Major League pitcher. Smith will likely be given the same chance as Martin to earn a shot at being a member of the Padres opening day bullpen.
Jabari Blash, OF, Seattle Mariners/Oakland Athletics
The 6th selection of the Rule 5 Draft by the Oakland Athletics, from the Seattle Mariners, was outfielder Jabari Blash. The Padres then acquired Blash as the player to be named later from last week’s Yonder Alonso/Drew Pomeranz swap. After struggling in the minors for several seasons, Blash had a bit of a breakout in Triple AAA last season, finishing with a slash line of .264/.355/.640 with 22 home runs in only 56 games. Between AA and AAA last season, Blash played in 116 games and hit 32 home runs, showing his power potential. The issue with Blash is that he strikes out a lot, over 120 times last season in only 116 games. Given the Padres opening in left field and possible platoon in center field, Blash should be given an opportunity to make the Padres opening day roster and perhaps even start if he can prove himself.
Luis Perdomo, RHP, St. Louis Cardinals/Colorado Rockies
The 4th selection of the Rule 5 Draft by the Colorado Rockies, from the St. Louis Cardinals, was starting pitcher Luis Perdomo. The Padres acquired Perdomo from the Rockies for cash considerations after the selection. Perdomo is a starting pitcher who got as high as high A ball last season. Perdomo had a 3.68 ERA in seventeen games in Low A ball last season and a 5.13 ERA in six games in High A ball. It appears the Padres will give Perdomo the chance to start in Spring training, but could see him as a great reliever option if starting does not work out for next season. Of all the four selections, Perdomo may be the most intriguing with the highest potential upside.