Adding someone on the bubble to the active roster via Rule 5 may not be the direction the Blue Jays are looking to go this season. Plenty can happen prior to the December 12th draft, but as of now, the Jays have 39 spots filled on their 40-man roster, allowing them to take a player for Rule 5.
Since the Jays are not rebuilding, any addition would require someone who can immediately step in and contribute or provide needed depth.
Let’s take a look at some interesting and available unprotected players and whether it would be worth having them take up a spot on the 25-man roster for the entire season.
Danny Burawa – RHP (Yankees)
J.J. Cooper of Baseball America has a great list of available unprotected players. His two key names to watch are Marcus Hatley of the Cubs, and Danny Burawa of the Yankees. It’s difficult to look at the trend line for Burawa as he missed 2012 due to injury. Still, he featured a 3.64 ERA and a 1.20 WHIP in 2011. Moving to Double-A last season, his ERA improved to 2.59, while his walk-rate more than doubled, from 2.6 BB/9 to 5.7. Since his fastball sits at 95 plus, and his other pitches lack consistency, he would not be suited in a rotation spot any time soon. If the Jays decide to trade away some of their surplus of relief pitching, and end up trading away one too many, Burawa may be worth adding to fill the hole. The hope, of course, would be to work on his control so that he can be used in the rotation one day.
Marcus Hatley – RHP (Cubs)
The other notable on Cooper’s list is Marcus Hatley. With three spots open for the Cubs to add him, one wonders what Theo Epstein and company have planned. Hatley is 6’5” and a great strikeout pitcher. Last season he struck out 74 batters over 60 innings between both Double-A and Triple-A. While his control is as much an issue as it is with Burawa, scouts sound more favourable regarding his mechanics. Like Burawa, Hatley would only be worth acquiring if the Jays somehow end up in a position requiring relief for next season. As much potential as both Burawa and Hatley have, it seems more than likely that the Jays would avoid prospect pitching this year.
Carlos Perez – C (Astros)
Here’s a chance for the Jays to get someone back into their system. Perez was part of the package trade to Houston to acquire J.A. Happ, David Carpenter, and Brandon Lyon. Perez has a strong arm, and is now six seasons in with experience catching. He doesn’t have power, but he hit for .271 last year combined in Double-A and Triple-A. He’s also said to be patient at the plate. If he doesn’t get scooped up early, which is quite possible, Perez could be a decent depth catcher to have. A lot of this will depend on what the catching situation will look like. Overall, Perez would be behind both Josh Thole and A.J. Jimenez.
Mike Freeman – 2B (Diamondbacks)
Mike Freeman is lauded for his plate-discipline, versatility (playing 2B, 3B, and OF), and his good sense. Reading over some of his interviews, he seems to have a great mind for the game, shifting his focus depending on each new situation. He hit for only .247 last year in Double-A, but has had a solid average at lower levels throughout his minor league and collegiate career. He can also draw walks and has some speed. His versatility is his greatest asset should the Jays look to use him. Having a utility man like Freeman is always useful and allows room for depth at positions elsewhere.
Cory Vaughn – OF (Mets)
Cory is the son of former major league OF Greg Vaughn, and a cousin of former major league 1B Mo Vaughn. He has good power and speed, but lacks consistency. Over at Rising Apple, they feel that Vaughn is at best a platoon bat. Vaughn’s main issue is that he struggles with right-handed pitching. His slash line last year in Double-A was .267/.346/.424. While many consider his potential limited, he may be someone who can contribute now rather than later—at least against lefties.
Of course anything can change soon and this is a topic we may need to revisit as the winter meetings approach.
Is there anyone out there who you would like to see the Jays add during Rule 5?