MLB lockout: Major-league portion of Rule 5 draft postponed indefinitely
Due to Major League Baseball’s lockout, the Rule 5 draft is not being held for the first time since 1920 – for now.
As Major League Baseball begins its first work stoppage since 1995, one of the earliest casualties is the major-league portion of the Rule 5 draft, which has now been postponed indefinitely.
This is certainly significant, because up until now, the Rule 5 draft had run uninterrupted since 1920 – even through previous lockouts. Because if there’s one thing major-league teams enjoy doing, it’s pilfering prospects from other organizations.
For the AL Central crowd, this was especially true in last year’s Rule 5 draft, as the Tigers selected outfielder Akil Baddoo from the Twins. Baddoo hadn’t played in two years, coming off of Tommy John surgery in 2019 and the pandemic in 2020, but Detroit took a chance and Baddoo ended up having a solid rookie campaign, hitting .259/.330/.436 with 13 home runs, 20 doubles, 55 RBIs and a 108 wRC+ in 413 at-bats.
The Rule 5 draft was originally scheduled to take place December 9 at the Winter Meetings in Orlando, but that obviously isn’t happening anymore either.
However, despite the turmoil, there will be a minor-league portion of the Rule 5 draft, which means teams will still be able to draft players from Double-A rosters and put them on their Triple-A rosters. It might not seem as exciting as immediately adding a player to an active major-league roster, but there have been some interesting minor-league Rule 5 picks over the years. Perhaps most notably, White Sox designated hitter Yermin Mercedes was a minor-league Rule 5 pick in 2017. Just like with the major-league Rule 5 draft, a team can still catch lightning in a bottle here.
So what’s in store for the major-league Rule 5 draft? It doesn’t mean it has necessarily been full-on canceled, so Guardians fans might still need to be on full alert and ready for the prospect of losing Oscar Gonzalez to another team. But for now, it won’t be happening – at least not this calendar year.
Now, if this season’s major-league Rule 5 draft does end up getting canceled altogether (which, honestly, it probably won’t), then things would really get interesting, as teams would potentially get another full season to develop prospects, adjust rosters, and potentially protect players. But at the same time, would there just be a huge glut of available Rule 5 players the following offseason to make up for this year’s lost draft?
Kind of mind-boggling to consider; there is a lot that is going to need to be sorted out over the coming months.