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Blue Jays Eligible and at Risk for Rule 5

While the Rule 5 draft is a month away, the deadline to shelter players for protection under the 40-man roster is Nov. 20. Now is a good time to look at some players not currently on the 40-man who are eligible for selection via Rule 5.

As a brief overview, the Rule 5 draft allows players who are stuck in the minors opportunity to play in the majors if another team has an available spot. Players are protected under the 40-man, but the acquiring team must place the player on their 25-man roster for the duration of the season or they will be, by rule, offered back to their original team. Generally, eligible players are those who signed contracts at 19 and have four years of service, or who signed at 18 with five years of service.

While Rule 5 is sometimes considered an afterthought, some will recall the Orioles acquiring Jose Bautista from Pittsburgh for a moment back in 2004.

Here are five eligible Jays not on the 40-man.

Justin Jackson – RHP

Justin Jackson has been a bit of a project from day one. After being regarded as a potential five-tool player in his 2007 draft year, his future seemed bright. But while his defense shined, his hitting never developed to its full potential. He moved from the middle infield to the outfield, but the lack of hitting remained an issue. Last season they took the bat out of his hands and put him on the mound. His repertoire included a low-90s fastball, a slider, and a change. His combined numbers for Dunedin and Lansing resulted in a 3.26 ERA and a 1.73 WHIP over 49 innings. Not impressive, but not bad for a guy who hadn’t pitched since high school.  The ten games with Dunedin, however, yielded a 5.28 ERA, showing he isn’t ready for the majors yet as a pitcher either. Still, given his varied positions and athletic ability, there’s an outside chance he could find work as a role player on a team with an open spot.

Sean Ochinko – C

It’s always valuable to keep as many catchers as possible in an organization. Last spring catching instructor Sal Fasano said Sean Ochinko was in good shape defensively, but he admitted there were areas yet to work on. Last year Ochinko struggled at the plate in Double-A, but he was called up to Buffalo following Josh Thole’s promotion to the Jays. In Buffalo his struggles continued, where he hit a mere .220 with only a few home runs over 50 games.  Add to this a 50-game suspension he received in August due to amphetamine use and it’s safe to assume he won’t be going anywhere over the winter.

Deck McGuire – RHP

Deck McGuire is arguably the most in need of protection of guys on the bubble. There are many reasons the Jays might want to keep him around. He’s a 1st round pick, still only 24, and with loads of potential. After struggling in 2012, he turned the corner last season and headed in a positive direction. While he posted a 4.86 ERA, his WHIP lowered to 1.32 and his strikeout rate improved considerably. Still unlikely to become a regular starter at the major league level any time soon, he’s not someone the Jays want to lose just for nothing.

Kenny Wilson – OF

While Kenny Wilson lacks power, he has terrific speed and a solid contact swing which helps him get on base. Defensively Wilson is also solid with great range in the outfield. At only 23 years old with his hitting continually improving (albeit in small increments year to year) Alex Anthopoulos and the organization need to make a decision on the very athletic Wilson. With Jays pitching in abundance, Wilson may find himself protected under the 40-man.

Ricky Romero – LHP

Ricky Romero is of course also eligible for the Rule 5 Draft, and he will certainly not be on the 40-man. Yes, if someone wanted him they would have put in a claim when he cleared waivers during the season. Still, headed into a new season may be a different story. It’s a hefty contract for a player with some baggage, but with Romero at least you have a good deal of major league experience to work with—even if that comes with its own set of problems. Although it’s unlikely, a team may decide to pay the nominal fee, keep him on the 25-man, and if he doesn’t work out, try to send him back to the Jays or waive him.

Any of this could change in the coming weeks. Upcoming trades will open doors for some, and close doors for others.

Who would you want the Jays to protect on their 40-man?

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Tags: Chad Ochinko Deck McGuire Justin Jackson Kenny Wilson Ricky Romero Toronto Blue Jays

  • Jeremy Russell

    If someone want to claim Romero I would be so happy. That frees up $7.5M.

  • david s

    I would be even happier if Ricky came back in triumph. Stranger things have happened.

  • RyanMueller

    @Robert….one piece of info that this article is missing is the number of open spots the Jays 40-man roster currently has. If any opens are present, it would be fun to project who might fill them.

    • iains

      40 man roster currently sits at 37

      • RyanMueller

        I know that, I was just offering some friendly advice to the author of this article, but thank you

        • Michael Wray

          Your comments help make our articles better Ryan, we always appreciate the feedback.

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  • Andrew van Laar

    I would really like to see Wilson protected out of this group. Leadoff type hitters are pretty valuable. I do wonder about Deck. I know he has potential, but he has REALLY struggled the last few years. DOes anyone have any insite into why this is? Is his ‘stuff’ there but he’s just not locating? Or is it because he is giving up the big run inning that hurts his stats?

    • Michael Wray

      I really wish that Disqus would let me link to articles but Jay Blue did a very good piece at Blue Jays From Away about Deck that I would recommend reading. It’s titled “Deck McGuire: Which Way Does He Go?”

    • JaysFan1996

      in 6 seasons in the minors, 2000 PA he has only hit .229/.329/.312 speed is useless if you cant get on base

      • Michael Wray

        I’ll give Kenny a bit of support since his first 1300 PAs or so were just horrendous and he also has missed time with injuries. It’s tough to get too excited about a 23-year-old prospect still at Double-A but from what I’ve heard some people within the Jays org think he still has a chance to break through. I’ll admit he’s probably a long shot for the 40-man though (IMO).

      • Andrew van Laar

        To be fair, .329OBP isn’t horrible and I agree with Mike that his start in the minors was really bad. I never look at career numbers for prospect but instead look back at the last two years. In the last two years he has put up a .265/ .355/ .372 line (these numbers are just averages of taking his last two season totals and dividing by two. I don’t have the time to do an exact calculation). I think that is a solid enough line to be a leadoff hitter and I think he is starting to really hone his skill (although he does need work on strikeouts).

        • Michael Wray

          Brendon Kennedy at the Toronto Star tweeted that Wilson will be added to the 40-man as well but it hasn’t been announced yet. Have to wait and see if it’s true…

  • Michael Scott

    Not a single one of these players needs to be protected. None of them are able to contribute enough in 2014 for other teams to take them and keep them in the MLB for a year.

    I would accept the 50k on any of those players and save the 40 man roster spot.

    None of them can be/are worth being hidden on another teams 25 man roster for a year.

    Just my opinion but I wouldn’t be upset losing any of those guys for 50k and a 40 man roster spot. Whether it be a 23 year old AA player who wasn’t all that special last year or a defensive 26 year old AAA fringe catcher, our crop isn’t all that interesting.

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