Major League Baseball's annual Winter Meetings begin next week, running Monday through Thursday in Nashville, Tennessee. This yearly gathering of every team's General Manager, agents, players, and reporters is usually the busiest time of the offseason. Many of the top remaining free agents are likely to sign next week and our heads will be spinning as we try and keep up with the trade market.
Another event that occurs each year at the Winter Meeting's is the Rule 5 Draft. Only players that are not on a team's 40 man roster and have met the following requirements are eligible to be drafted:
-were signed to their first pro contract at age 18 or younger and have been property of an organization for five years
-were signed to their first pro contract at age 19 or older and have been property of an organization for four years
The idea of the Rule 5 draft is to keep teams from stockpiling prospects who might otherwise be able to get a shot at the major leagues with a different organization. There are two portions of the draft, a major league one and a minor league one.
For the major league portion of the draft, the cost to select a player is $50,000. That organization that selects said player must keep him on their 25 man roster for the entire season in order to retain his rights (he must be active for 90 days, if the player suffers an injury and is put on the disabled list), or else he must be offered back to the club he was drafted from for $25,000.
In the minor league portion, clubs can select players that aren't protected on an organization's minor league reserve list to play at a higher level. For example, a team could pluck a player from AA (and pay a $12,000 fee) and put that player on their AAA roster. The cost of drafting a player at A level or lower to play at AA is $4,000.
Here is a brief look at the players the Brewers have drafted in the major league portion of the Rule 5 draft since 1997 (I've omitted the years the team didn't make a selection):
LHP Wei Chung Wang || Pittsburgh Pirates
Wang was a prospect plucked from the Pirates' rookie level and he made only 14 appearances for the Brewers in 2014, posting a 10.90 ERA and -0.8 rWAR. He missed a few months with a "shoulder injury" that season, as well. He's since been removed from the 40 man roster, but after a solid showing in Brevard County and a late-season promotion to AAA in 2015 it appears Wei-Chung should still have big league potential for the Brewers.
RHP Pat Egan || Baltimore Orioles
Egan was with the club in spring training in 2011 and pitched six scoreless innings, striking out two with no walks. He did not make the team however, and was returned to Baltimore on March 24th of that year. He's been out of baseball since 2013.
LHP Chuck Lofgren || Cleveland Indians
Lofgren came with a top 100 prospect pedigree, but after a tough showing in AAA in 2009 the Indians left him unprotected. The Brewers snapped up Lofgren, but he didn't make the club out of spring training. Instead of returning him to the Indians, however, the Brewers instead sent Omar Aguilar to Cleveland to retain his rights. He was outrighted to AAA Nashville and spent all of 2010 there, posting a 5.19 ERA in 131.2 innings. He was released following the season and spent the next four seasons bouncing around in the Giants organization and various independent teams. He's been out of baseball since 2014 and never appeared in the major leagues.
RHP Eduardo Morlan || Tampa Bay Rays
The Brewers selected Morlan after a solid showing in AA in 2008, but he struggled in Spring Training. He pitched 7.0 innings and allowed five earned runs, including two long balls. He was returned to the Rays on March 19th. He actually signed with the club as a minor league free agent in 2010 and made 32 appearances for AA Huntsville, posting a 2.74 ERA. Since then he's made appearances in the Braves organization and independent leagues, but Morlan ever made the show and has been out of baseball since 2014.
LHP Edward Campusano || Chicago Cubs
Campusano never threw a pitch for the Brewers and was traded to the Tigers for cash considerations prior to Spring Training in 2007. He made a few spring appearances but didn't throw a competitive pitch in 2007 due to Tommy John surgery. He was eventually returned to the Cubs and has been out of baseball since 2009.
RHP Marcos Carvajal || Los Angeles Dodgers
Carvajal was almost immediately sold to the Rockies after the Brewers plucked him in the 2004 Rule 5. He spent all of 2005 on the Rockies active roster, posting a 5.09 ERA (which actually translated to a palatable 94 ERA+) in 53.0 innings. He was traded to Seattle prior to the 2006 season and bounced around with a few organizations, making three more big league appearances with the Marlins in 2007. He's been out of baseball since 2011.
RHP Jeff Bennett || Pittsburgh Pirates
Bennett stuck with the Brewers for the entire 2004 season and made 60 appearances, pitching 71.1 innings and posting a 4.79 ERA and -0.2 rWAR. He spent all of 2005 with AAA Nashville before he was released. He'd go on to pitch parts of another three seasons with the Braves and Rays but didn't appear in the majors after 2009. He toiled around the minors and independent leagues until 2014, and he's now retired and runs a baseball academy in his home state of Tennessee.
INF Enrique Cruz || New York Mets
Cruz played all of 2003 with the Brewers, a club that lost 94 games. He appeared in 60 games and made only 76 plate appearances, getting six hits (one double), four walks, and 1 hit-by-pitch. That equals out to a putrid .085/.145/.099 slash and -1.4 rWAR. He was spent to the minors thereafter and traded to the Texas Rangers in 2006 for one of my favorite all-time Brewers, the side-arming lefty Brian Shouse. Cruz returned to the show for one plate appearance with Cincinnati in 2007 and has been out of baseball since 2012.
RHP Matt Ford || Toronto Blue Jays
In a rare move of making two Rule 5 picks for two years in a row, the Brewers also chose Ford with the 18th pick in the 2002 Rule 5. He spent all of 2003 with the big club, pitching in 25 games and posting a 4.33 ERA and 0.5 rWAR. He was sent back to the minors in 2004 and struggled before being released in May of 2005. He bounced around the minors and independent leagues until 2008, but never again returned to the major leagues.
RHP Jorge Sosa || Seattle Mariners
The Brewers plucked Sosa from Seattle, but he never threw a regular season pitch in Milwaukee and was claimed off waivers by the Devil Rays on March 18th. He'd go on to spend the next nine seasons in the big leagues, making a total of 294 appearances for the DRays, Braves, Mets, Cardinals, Marlins, and Nationals. He posted a career 4.72 ERA as a swingman and was valued at 2.6 rWAR.
OF Ryan Christenson || Arizona Diamondbacks
The second of two Brewers' Rule 5 picks in 2001, Christenson had actually already spent a considerable amount of time in the big leagues after debuting with the A's in 1998. He played 351 games in parts of four seasons with the A's before getting shipped to Arizona in 2001. The Diamondbacks left him off their 40 man roster following the season, and he managed only a meager .176/.222/.276 line in 66 plate appearances with Milwaukee. He was released following the season and caught on with Texas, but after posting a .510 OPS in 2003 he never again appeared in the major leagues.
LHP Matt Williams || New York Yankees
Williams was already a well traveled minor league veteran by the time the Brewers picked him in the 1999 Rule 5 draft, having played for four organizations after being drafted in 1992. He made only 11 appearances and gave up seven runs in 9.0 innings pitched before Milwaukee returned him to the Yankees on May 3. He'd never again appear in the major leagues and was out of baseball by 2002.