The Yankees have added a group of players to the 40-man roster ahead of the 2017 Rule 5 Draft. Every year, this draft takes place on the last day of the Winter Meetings in December in order to free eligible players from the toils of the minor leagues and give them a chance to catch on elsewhere. There are only so many roster spots, so things can often get tight in November. Did the Yankees add the right people?
This year, the Yankees added Albert Abreu, Domingo Acevedo, Thairo Estrada, Gleyber Torres, Billy McKinney, and someone named Jonathan Loaisiga. Jake Cave also made the cut, but he actually would have been eligible for minor league free agency. Over the season, the team also added Jordan Montgomery, Clint Frazier, and Tyler Wade, who would have been eligible this year anyway. It’s important to note that Chance Adams wasn’t added because the organization still has time to wait on him.
If you’re wondering who else is eligible, it’s a pretty easy (yet complicated) rule to remember. Players who signed at 18 years old before June 5, and have gone through five years in the organization, are eligible. That basically means anyone signed out of high school or the international market before or during the 2013 season. Also, players who signed at 19 before June 5, and have gone through four years in the organization, are eligible. So anyone who signed out of college before or during the 2014 season.
If an eligible player is not protected, he can be drafted by another team, who then must keep him on their active roster for the entire season or else offer the player back to their original team. The Yankees spared a few players from this fate, but several notable names remain out there for the taking.
Nestor Cortes is a left-handed pitcher who was drafted in the 36th round of the 2013 MLB Draft. Despite this status, Cortes has remained on the outskirts of relevancy for all these years, splitting time between the rotation and the bullpen. While the results are there, the stuff has always been lacking. If he gets taken this winter, he could find a role as a long reliever.
Rashad Crawford came to the Yankees in the Aroldis Chapman trade with the Cubs at the 2016 deadline. A former 11th rounder from 2013, Crawford showed steady improvement despite remaining at High-A at the age of 22. This past year he made his debut at Trenton, but his stats bottomed out. The Yankees had no reason to protect him, and he’ll likely stick around.
J.P. Feyereisen came over from the Indians in the Andrew Miller trade alongside Clint Frazier and Ben Heller. He held the potential to be a high-strikeout reliever, but his control needed to be improved before he could become a major league option. In 2017, not only did he fail to figure out where the ball was going, his strikeout rate dramatically decreased making him a question mark for anyone looking for relief help.
Nick Green has been a target of the Yankees for a long time. He was drafted by them in 2013 but opted to go to college before the Rangers signed him the following year. The Yankees finally got him in the Carlos Beltran deal, but he has proven to be very hittable in A-ball. Green could get taken, but he’s likely to return before too long.
Stephen Tarpley was what the Yankees got from the Pirates in exchange for Ivan Nova, so he was never expected to be a star. This is Tarpley’s third organization in five years, but moving him into a relief role in 2017 may have unlocked something in him. He missed a good chunk of the season, though, so the Yankees didn’t find much value in protecting a 24-year-old with four games at Double-A under his belt.
The Yankees also failed to protect several of their former top draft picks, like 2013 second round pick Gosuke Katoh, 2013 fifth round pick David Palladino, 2014 third round pick Austin DeCarr, and 2014 fifth round pick Jordan Foley. None of them turned into much anyway. Other familiar faces include Brady Lail, Abiatal Avelino, and Mike Ford.
In short, the Yankees will probably not miss any of these guys if they are taken. Maybe Nestor Cortes sticks somewhere, but if the team decided it was more worthwhile to protect Jonathan Loaisiga, a 23-year-old right-handed starting pitcher who just pitched four games in Short Season ball, it has to be telling.