NEW YORK -- Sandy Alderson essentially said Monday that he cannot protect all of the prospects in December’s Rule 5 draft that he would like to shield because of a 40-man roster crunch.
In fact, the Mets’ 40-man roster will be full entering the winter even after subtracting free agents. That’s because Daisuke Matsuzaka and Bobby Abreu's departures will be offset by Matt Harvey and Bobby Parnell having to be reinstated from the 60-day DL right after the postseason.
So for every prospect the Mets attempt to protect, they will have to remove one player already on the 40-man roster. That means in many cases putting them through waivers and risking losing them, as long as another team is willing to carry the player on its 40-man roster.
Mazzoni Noah Syndergaard is a slam dunk to be added.
Other strong considerations would have to include right-handers Cory Mazzoni, Logan Verrett and Akeel Morris and left-hander Jack Leathersich. Right-handers Gabriel Ynoa and Tyler Pill and slugging third baseman/outfielder Dustin Lawley also would merit discussion.
Remember, the goal is not to protect every valuable prospect. If an unprotected prospect is taken in the Rule 5 draft in December, he must stay on the drafting team’s major league roster for the entire 2015 season in order to officially become the new team’s property.
The goal, actually, is to protect as few prospects as is reasonably possible in order to maintain 40-man roster maneuverability.
So, for instance, Mets catching prospect Cam Maron is eligible for the Rule 5 draft. But is it really worth the Mets protecting him? In order to feel compelled to add him to the 40-man roster, the Mets would have to determine:
• There is a reasonable chance a team would select him in the Rule 5 draft.
• He would stick on that team’s major league roster all of 2015.
• It would be a painful loss to absorb if that happened.
The Mets once calculated with catching prospect Jesus Flores that he would not be selected and remain on another team’s roster the following season. However, after being selected in the Rule 5 draft at the winter meetings in December 2006, Flores did stick the entire following season with the Nats and became their property.
Omar Minaya once said that was among his biggest mistakes as Mets GM, although it did not ultimately sting the Mets because injuries have undermined Flores’ career. He has since played for three more organizations and has not appeared in the majors since 2012.
OK, so let’s say the Mets do add five eligible prospects to the 40-man roster. Who would they subtract? Scanning the 40-man roster, you would presume the most vulnerable players would include: Andrew Brown, Cesar Puello, Wilfredo Tovar, Buddy Carlyle, Dana Eveland, Scott Rice, Juan Centeno and Josh Satin. Heck, if the Mets plan to non-tender Eric Young Jr. and/or Ruben Tejada -- and there’s no guarantee of either occurring -- they might just want to release them by the Nov. 20 deadline to add players to the 40-man roster in order to free spots.
The Mets also will need to delete a player from the 40-man roster every time they sign a free agent this offseason to a major league contract.
Who is eligible to be selected in the Rule 5 draft?
Players who are 19 or older when they signed are eligible the fourth draft after they’re on board. Players 18 or younger are eligible the fifth draft after they’re on board.
So, generally, college players drafted in 2011 and high school players and Latin American teenagers signed in 2010 are eligible for the first time this year.
Here is an unofficial list compiled by ESPNNewYork.com of players eligible for the Rule 5 draft, with those with asterisks eligible for the first time (at least as I’ve computed it):
Maikis De La Cruz*
Players such as Jeremy Hefner, Omar Quintanilla, Taylor Teagarden, John Lannan and Allan Dykstra technically are Rule 5 eligible as well. They’re also minor-league free agents, so they may not be around by the winter meetings.