Winter Meetings Wrap Up With Rule 5 Draft & Major League Reliever

The Winter Meetings ended this morning, with the Rule 5 Draft at breakfast time and then everyone flew home from Orlando.

If the social media accounts of my baseball friends are any indication, there apparently was a end-of-meetings blowout at Disney World last night. One friend Snapped the entire Pirates of the Caribbean ride, which I think is worse than Snapping from a concert. Can we get a ruling on that?

Sorry for the digression. On to the baseball news.

The Mariners came to terms with veteran relief pitcher Juan Nicasio on a two-year contract, pending a physical.

Nicasio was a mediocre starter for several years who has taken off since being moved to the bullpen. Last year he was with three different teams, since it was known he would be a free agent at the end of the season. All told he pitched in 76 games and went 5-5 with a 2.61 ERA, and great numbers across the board. In 72.1 innings he struck out 72 and issued 18 unintentional walks, giving up only 58 hits.

Pleased to report that the Mariners did not lose any players in the major league portion of the Rule 5 Draft, so we’ll get a locker ready for Ian Miller. The Rainiers speedy outfielder was the most likely player to be grabbed by another team.

The Rule 5 Draft requires the drafting team to keep the player in the majors all season long, or else return him to his previous organization. Seattle chose one player, from the New York Yankees: first baseman Mike Ford.

Ford split last season between Double-A and Triple-A, posting terrific numbers as a 25-year-old. However, as a left-handed first baseman it’s really hard to figure out how he’ll fit into the Mariners opening day roster.

There is a possible work-around: the Mariners can look at Ford in spring training, and if they like him but don’t have room on the opening day roster they could put together a trade with the Yankees, which would eclipse the Rule 5 restrictions and allow the M’s to send him to the minors. But that rarely happens.

There is a minor league phase of the Rule 5 Draft which works completely different from the major league phase, and the Mariners were active here.

During the offseason major league teams list their minor league players on different rosters: a Triple-A roster, Double-A roster, on down the line. This is an on-paper roster, with limits of how many players you list at each level. These rosters are never made public.

In the Triple-A phase of the Rule 5 Draft, a team can select certain qualified players off another team’s lower-level roster with only a cash obligation. Basically, they are buying the player.

Today the Mariners ‘drafted’ catcher Joe Odom from the Atlanta Braves and catcher Tyler Baker from the Arizona Diamondbacks. These moves were made to help the organizational catching depth at the mid-levels of the farm system.

Of the two, Odom has more experience including about 50 games at Double-A and three at Triple-A. Baker has been at the Class-A level.

Seattle lost Class-A pitcher Lane Ratliff to the Diamondbacks. Ratliff was one of the many emergency fill-in pitchers for Tacoma last season, appearing in two games and earning a spot in the Can You Name The 52 Pitchers Used By The 2017 Tacoma Rainiers online quiz.

Taking a look at the entire list of Rule 5 Draft picks, a former Rainiers player stands out: shortstop Tyler Smith was selected by the Braves (from the Texas Rangers) in the minor league phase. He’ll probably get a chance to put on an original Gwinnett Stripers uniform.



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