Decisions, decisions: Tigers face hard roster calls ahead of Rule 5 draft

Detroit News

Chris McCosky
| The Detroit News

Detroit – This is the lone downside to restocking the farm system as quickly and effectively as the Tigers have done over the last four years: Eventually you end up with more quality prospects than you can protect on the roster.

The Tigers are facing that reality this week. Friday is the deadline to add minor league players to the 40-man roster in order to protect them from the Rule 5 Draft, which will take place Dec. 10.

In the recent past, the Tigers have been Rule 5 vultures, plucking outfielder Victor Reyes from the Diamondbacks and last year right-handed pitcher Rony Garcia from the Yankees.

This year, they might be the prey.

Presently, there are three open spots on the 40-man roster. Among the prospects who are Rule 5-eligible are pitchers Matt Manning, Joey Wentz and Alex Faedo – Nos. 3, 9 and 10 on the club’s prospect list per MLBPipeline.

Almost certainly those three will be protected.

But what about infielder Wenceel Perez, a 21-year-old who the Tigers paid $550,000 to sign out of the Dominican Republic? Although he scuffled in 2019, he’s still the 16th-ranked prospect in the system.

What about two slightly older pitchers (25 and 26) who were get-backs in trades – right-handers Alex Lange (Nick Castellanos trade with the Cubs) and Logan Shore (Mike Fiers trade with the Athletics)? What about fire-balling right-handed relievers Jason Foley and Will Vest, who opened eyes before the shutdown last March.

Subscription: Henning: Tigers farm set for shake-up as West Michigan prepares for promotion

What about a player like Brady Policelli, who can catch, play corner infield and corner outfield, or side-arming right-hander Nolan Blackwood, players the Tigers thought enough of to keep at the alternate site this last summer?

It’s possible that not having a minor-league season in 2020 will make for a less robust Rule 5 draft and more quality prospects will go undrafted. All 30 teams are scrambling to re-evaluate and position their existing younger players within their farm system.

Researching eligible Rule 5 players outside the organization – especially without any current scouting data – might be a lower priority given the circumstances.  

Still, is that a risk general manager Al Avila would take with players like Perez, Foley or Blackwood?

What follows are three lists – the complete list of Rule 5-eligible prospects, a list of players whose spots on the 40-man roster could be vulnerable and a list of nine roster players eligible for salary arbitration.

Although it doesn’t seem likely to happen this year, Avila in past years has designated arbitration-eligible players (James McCann, Alex Wilson) for assignment to clear roster spots.  

Rule-5 eligible

STARTING PITCHERS: Matt Manning, Joey Wentz, Alex Faedo, Alex Lange, Logan Shore, Elvin Rodriquez, Carlos Guzman, Brad Bass, Dane Myers, Wilkel Hernandez, Jack O’Loughlin.

RELIEF PITCHERS: Nolan Blackwood, Jason Foley, Vill Vest, Zac Houston, Joe Navilhon, Drew Carlton, Angel DeJesus, Billy Lescher, Ruben Garcia, Sandel De La Cruz.

CATCHERS: Brady Policelli, Joey Morgan, Eliezor Alfonso.

INFIELDERS: Reynaldo Rivera, Jose King, Daniel Pinero, Cole Peterson, Wenceel Perez.

OUTFIELDERS: Jacob Robson, Danny Woodrow, Chad Sedio, Ulrich Bojarski.

Vulnerable 40-man spots 

PITCHERS: Beau Burrows, Kyle Funkhouser, John Schreiber.

CATCHER: Eric Haase.

INFIELDERS: Brandon Dixon, Zack Short.

OUTFIELDERS: Travis Demeritte, Troy Stokes, Jr., Derek Hill.


PITCHERS: Matthew Boyd, Jose Cisnero, Buck Farmer, Michael Fulmer, Joe Jimenez, Daniel Norris.

INFIELDERS: Niko Goodrum, Jeimer Candelario.


Twitter @cmccosky

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