At 11:59 pm ET on Friday, all teams must have 40-man rosters set in preparation for the Rule 5 Draft, which will be held in Indianapolis on Dec. 10. That means the Pirates have some decisions and moves left to make in the next two days.
Currently, the club’s 40-man roster has 36 players on it. Evan Meek and Jose Ascanio are both still listed as being on the 60-day disabled list, but they will both need to be added this week. Once they are, the Pirates will then have 38 players on that roster.
Given GM Neal Huntington’s track record so far, you’d have to believe that the Pirates are planning to go into the Rule 5 Draft with the expectation of making a selection in it. That would mean that the club needs to leave a roster spot available for that Rule 5 pick. In essence, that gives the Pirates the ability to really only protect 39 players.
So who needs to be added before Friday? Members of the 2006 Draft class that were 19 or older when they signed are eligible for the Rule 5 Draft this year. You can find the full list of Pirates draft picks from ’06 here if you’re interested. Players who were signed at the age of 18 of younger get an extra year before they are eligible, which means that those signed out of high school or Latin America at 18 or younger in 2005 are now Rule 5 eligible.
The obvious add to the 40-man will be right-hander Brad Lincoln. He’s the top pitching prospect in the system and would be snatched up in a heartbeat if left unprotected.
I think you can put outfielder Gorkys Hernandez in that category, too. While he may still be a bit further from the Majors than Lincoln, he is a prospect that the Pirates will protect.
Though right-hander Bryan Morris took a step back in Single-A this season, he’s a likely addition to the 40-man because of his potential. It’s hard for me to believe that the Pirates would leave one of the main pieces in the Jason Bay trade at risk to be taken. Can you imagine how that would look if he was.
Some of the other players (this is not an exhaustive list) that are Rule 5 eligible include: Shelby Ford, Miles Durham, Jim Negrych, Ramon Aguero, Michael Dubee, R.J. Rodriguez, Jared Keel and Michael Crotta.
If he’s not protected, Kyle Bloom will again be among those eligible for the Rule 5 Draft. I’m noting him specifically because he was taken in the 2008 Rule 5 Draft by Detroit, but given back to Pittsburgh late in Spring Training.
Now, who is susceptible to being removed from the 40-man to make room for these additions? The Pirates would seem to have a sufficient amount of potential options. I’d list (in no particular order) Anthony Claggett, Phil Dumatrait, Steven Jackson, Brian Bixler and Argenis Diaz as the most likely to be removed. All would seem to be fairly easy to replace if lost.
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