Baseball held its annual Rule 5 Draft this morning to close out the Winter Meetings in Nashville, and the results hit the Tacoma Rainiers pretty hard. We lost two of our most popular players today.
Powerful outfielder Jabari Blash was selected in the major league portion of the draft by the Oakland A’s, who promptly traded him to San Diego. The Padres must keep Blash in the major leagues on the active 25-man roster all season long or else offer him back to the Mariners.
We had a hunch this might happen – I wrote about it a few weeks ago. It’s not going to be easy for Blash to stick with the Padres: they acquired four players via this draft, and it’s going to be tough for them to keep all four in the majors all season. This will be the most important spring training of Blash’s career.
What turned out to be a big morning for current and ex-Rainiers continued when reliever Logan Bawcom was selected by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the minor league phase of the Rule 5 Draft.
The minor league phase works very differently from the major league Rule 5 Draft. It’s complicated – I’m not going into the details here because I don’t want to spend the rest of the week typing – but the short version is: the Dodgers have essentially bought Bawcom’s minor league contract. Unlike the major league Rule 5 Draft, there is no scenario in which Bawcom is returned to the Mariners. He’s Dodgers property and they can do what they please with him – which in all likelihood is an assignment to Triple-A Oklahoma City, not far from Bawcom’s Dallas-area home.
We’ll miss Bawcom on the mound – he pitched in 136 games for the Rainiers over the past three seasons, recording 29 saves – but we’ll really miss him as a human being.
Bawcom was honored along with Forrest Snow each of the last two seasons as the Rainiers community men of the year. Bawcom enjoyed doing all of the Rainiers outreach programs, whether it was visiting kids at Mary Bridge hospital or saying hi to troops at the military base or reading books to disadvantaged youth. He did all of these things while wearing a Rainiers jersey, representing the team in a positive light throughout the community.
But wait, there’s more.
The Mariners also lost former Rainiers Brian Moran and Julio Morban in the minor league phase.
A left-handed reliever, Moran pitched quite well for Tacoma in 2012 and 2013. Last year he was recovering from Tommy John surgery and pitched for Double-A Jackson. The Cleveland Indians selected him today; their Triple-A club is in Columbus.
Also on the move is the outfielder Morban, who saw limited action the last two seasons due to a variety of issues. Once a member of the Mariners 40-man roster, Morban is still only 23 years old. He’s moving with Bawcom to the Dodgers organization.
The Mariners added a relief pitcher in the minor league phase, grabbing RHP Isaac Sanchez from the Pittsburgh Pirates. Sanchez had a 2.71 ERA in Class-A last year; he appears targeted for Double-A Jackson.
Another ex-Rainiers player on the move was Ji-Man Choi, who has had an eventful offseason. Choi was a free agent, so he signed a minor league deal a couple of weeks ago with Baltimore. But this morning he was drafted in the major league Rule 5 Draft by Los Angeles Angels, who have to keep him in the big leagues or else return him to Baltimore.
- Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto says that the big moves are done. This is a nice recap from Bob Dutton which includes a projected roster.
- Larry Stone has a column on how Dipoto has completely changed the cast of characters who will support the Mariners returning core.
- Dutton has details on the Rule 5 Draft and also notes that the M’s have signed minor league middle infielder Benji Gonzalez. Gonzalez spent some time with El Paso last year and could possibly break camp with Tacoma.
- Baseball America has every pick from today’s Rule 5 Draft, along with a note on each major league pick.
- The best story I saw out of the Winter Meetings came about when a writer realized that his Uber driver was former major leaguer Floyd Youmans. Poignant stuff about being out of the game you love.
That’s it for the Winter Meetings, but there will still be plenty of Hot Stove League action for the rest of the winter.