SF Giants Rule 5 Draft Preview

New York Yankees pitcher Trevor Stephan (81) pitches during spring training at George M. Steinbrenner Field. (Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports)
New York Yankees pitcher Trevor Stephan (81) pitches during spring training at George M. Steinbrenner Field. (Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports) /
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SF Giants, Dany Jimenez
The SF Giants drafted relief pitcher Dany Jimenez (52) in last year’s Rule 5 Draft, but returned him to the Toronto Blue Jays. (Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports) /

With the MLB Rule 5 Draft slated for Friday, December 10th, our own Marc Delucchi examines what the SF Giants could lose and add in this year’s draft.

The SF Giants have been one of the most aggressive teams in the Rule 5 Draft since Farhan Zaidi was hired as the team’s president of baseball operations. In his first offseason, the team drafted Andrew Ferguson, Travis Bergen, and later traded for another Rule 5 pick (Connor Joe). Last year, the Giants selected right-handed reliever Dany Jimenez.

Yet, at least thus far, the moves have mostly been all for not. All four players had cups of coffee with the Giants, but none impressed enough to earn a permanent place in the organization. Instead, each was returned to their original teams before the end of the season. Granted, the Rule 5 Draft is designed to make it difficult for teams to retain talent.

After players on minor-league contracts have crossed a certain threshold of service time, if they are not placed on a 40-man roster (and thus, given a major-league contract) they become eligible to be selected by another team in the Rule 5 Draft. However, any team that selects a player must keep them on their active big-league roster for the entirety of the following season. They may be placed on the injured list, but still must reach a threshold of active days on the roster.

Needless to say, the best prospects are usually already in the majors before they are Rule 5 eligible and if not, they’re almost always locked to be protected. Earlier this offseason, the Giants made some changes to their 40-man roster to protect some of their best available prospects. Every other team did the same thing. Still, plenty of talent remains out there for the taking. Will the Giants be able to get it right this time?

The Rule 5 Draft remains a rare opportunity to acquire a player without having to give up anything, but moderate amounts of cash, in return. With that said, the Giants organization has far more talent in their organization than when Zaidi first arrived. That was exemplified earlier this offseason when all three players the Giants designated for assignment were claimed by other organizations. It will be interesting to see if Zaidi and general manager Scott Harris are as aggressive in this year’s draft.