As anyone who has lived through at least one baseball offseason can tell you, it is a barren hellscape devoid of meaning or purpose. As such, whenever there is a moment of even superficial relevance to the upcoming season, fans tend to cling to it like that cat on that poster. You know the one. Well hang in there, buddy, because the king of moments of superficial relevance to the upcoming season is right around the corner.
Okay, so maybe that's not entirely fair to the Rule 5 draft. After all, just this past season (in what was a banner year for Rule 5 draftees) it brought the Mets Sean Gilmartin (and the Phillies Odubel Herrera, and the A's Mark Canha, and the Rangers Delino DeShields Jr.). In fact, perusing the draft's history you'll find plenty of useful names who were obtained via this annual exercise in roster mining, from baseball greats like Roberto Clemente and Johan Santana to 2015 Washington Nationals like Jayson Werth and Dan Uggla. Generally speaking, though, the perceived importance of the results of the Rule 5 draft gets inflated by the draft's location on the baseball calendar. The more significant impact of the Rule 5 draft is not in the results, but in what it forces teams to do a few weeks prior.
Friday November 20 marks the date by which teams must submit their 40-man rosters ahead of December's Rule 5 draft. Each team must examine its list of eligible minor league players and decide which ones it is willing to cast into the draft and which ones are worthy of protection on the 40-man roster. As a general guideline, each Rule 5 draft class consists of college players signed four years ago, and high school and international players signed five years ago, as well as any non-40-man players who were eligible in prior years. For next month's draft, that means college guys from the 2012 draft and high school and international guys from 2011 will be eligible for the first time.
Looking at the list of Mets' Rule 5 candidates this year, Triple-A center fielder Brandon Nimmo (2011, Round 1) and Double-A starting pitcher Robert Gsellman (2011, Round 13) jump off the page as the most obvious 40-man-roster additions. Also of interest is powerful outfielder Wuilmer Becerra (2011, international), who spent the 2015 season in Single-A. Becerra, you may recall, was the final piece the Mets received from the Blue Jays in the trade that sent R.A. Dickey north and brought Travis d'Arnaud and Noah Syndergaard to New York. A pair of other would-be first-time eligibles, Kevin Plawecki (2012, Round 1 supplemental) and Matt Reynolds (2012, Round 2), were already added to the 40-man roster during the season.
Below is a list of stateside Mets minor leaguers eligible for the major league phase of this year's Rule 5 draft. The Mets currently have three open 40-man roster spots, however it is worth keeping in mind that any major league free agent signed between now and the December 10 Rule 5 draft will need one of those 40-man spots. Also worth remembering is that in order to participate—i.e., to select from other teams—in the draft, the Mets must not have a full 40-man roster going in.
|A+||Maikis De La Cruz||OF|
*players in bold are eligible for the first time