Tis the season for speculation. The writers and fan contributers have written some pieces on the Braves 40-man roster and the Rule 5 draft. This is going to rehash that. Instead, let’s take a look at some players that could be available and see if any are a good fit for the Braves.
There is history with the Braves selecting in the Rule 5, so I wouldn’t rule it out that they won’t try again even though they aren’t rebuilding. A team should always add talent when they can. Let’s take a look at the Braves history.
2017: Anyelo Gómez, Yankees, reliever: Sadly, the arm didn’t hold up and the Braves sent him back. Gómez spent most of 2018 on the disabled list and pitched a total of 7.1 innings.
2016: Armando Rivero, Cubs, reliever: Again, injuries plagued him and though he did stick on the Braves, he was eventually released. Rivero eventually signed in the Mexican league in 2018 and pitched a total of 8 innings.
2015: Evan Rutckyj, Yankees, reliever: Yet another pitcher that was returned. He was released by the Yankees in 2017.
2014: Daniel Winkler, Rockies, reliever: Took a few years, but it looks like Winkler will be with the Braves for awhile. Solid pick!
Needless to say the Braves don’t have a great history with selecting players in the Rule 5, but they did hit on Winkler. There are four roster spots open as these words are being typed. The only players that will be talked about are ones that can most definitely make the roster out of Spring Training.
When it comes to other teams, several are already have a full 40-man. You also will see teams trade a few of these players so they don’t just end up losing them.
The Rays currently have a full 40-man roster. They are most definitely going to free up a roster spot for Jesus Sanchez. However, one guy I find interesting is a reliever in Ian Gibaut. He has two plus pitches, but does suffer from control issues. He struck out 75 inning 56 innings at Triple-A. Gibaut had a .181 avg against and a 1.00 WHIP.
He’s currently No. 1 on the list of players to take in the Rule 5 draft. I’d like to see the Braves try and work out a trade ahead of time for Gibaut and one of the Rays many SS/2B players like Brandon Lowe, Nick Solak or Christian Arroyo (Wendle is coming off a ~4 WAR season, they also have Willy Adames, and Andrew Velazquez) to help beef up the bench.
Another team with a full 40-man roster. They also have the likes of Chris Paddack and Anderson Espinoza that are Rule 5 available. So you know they will clear at least two spots for them. What I wouldn’t give for Paddack. I wanted him real bad when he was still with the Marlins. That’s not all though as the Padres still have a few other players available too. Definitely a team that could get picked over.
Edward Oliveras is interesting as he has some pop and speed (potential 20/20 guy), but spent the entire season in High-A. Probably not someone the Braves would take, which is a shame. Oliveras is a player teams will regret not taking if he’s available. Feels so much like Teoscar Hernandez a few years ago.
However, Austin Allen could offer something as an offensive catcher. He’s a C/1B, who spent the entire season in Double-A hitting 22 home runs (53 total XBH) while hitting .290. That’s two straight seasons of hitting 20+ home runs. I wouldn’t care if the Braves carried three catchers for someone like Allen. He probably has a better future than Alex Jackson.
With three open roster spots and around six players in their top 30 to protect, hard decisions will be made. Ramon Urias as signed out of the Mexican league and has certainly outperformed due to an unsustainable BABIP. Junior Fernandez has been an underachiever his whole career. Both of these players are not a fit.
Instead Genesis Cabrera could be a nice addition to the bullpen. Although he’s been a starting pitcher, he really only has two pitches. He should throw mid to high 90’s as a LH reliever. That should not be overlooked. Despite walking 71 batters in 140 innings, he has shown to have average control in the past, so this bodes well in the future as a reliever.
While the Twins have a bit of breathing room with four open roster spots, they still have a few players that won’t get protected without additional moves.
The first name that comes to mind is former 6th overall pick in Tyler Jay. He’s been smartly moved to the pen, though he still struggled a bit. Just 49 strikeouts in 59 innings with a 1.50 WHIP. It was also the healthiest he’s been since 2016, so he was likely rusty. He’s started to sit in the mid 90’s later in the year, and as a LH pitcher there’s value in that. Also, his control is that of a starter and would be solid as a reliever.
Another surprise name is Nick Anderson. Not on any top lists, but the guy has a career 0.94 WHIP. He also struck out 88 batters in 60 innings this season.
Although the Marlins have five spots available, they have about seven players on their top 30 that need protecting. Most are just too low a level to worry about. One guy not in any top 30 lists is Jose Quijada. He struck out 81 in 63 innings with a 1.05 WHIP. While he might ultimately be a LOOGY, righties hit less than .200 for the year.
This is an organization that drafts well and spends money on international players. It’s no surprise that the Dodgers have two spots open and players like Keibert Ruiz & Yadier Alvarez currently available for the Rule 5. Those two are expected to get added, but what about Edwin Rios, Drew Jackson and others? Drew Jackson is one of the few hitters I think could be worth taking and certainly a favorite of mine. He has two plus/plus-plus tools in speed and his arm. He’s projected to be an above average or better defender too. While he’s a light hitter, the power did manifest this season where he hit 15 home runs in AA, he certainly has untapped potential with the bat. Jackson is willing to take a walk (11% BB-rate), and despite having a low BABIP for someone with good speed (.298), he produced a wRC+ of 121.
The Braves would primarily need Jackson to be a defensive replacement or pinch runner. Certainly doable, and see if his hitting ability takes another step forward because I think it can. And you figure Alex Anthopoulos knows this system and players extremely well.
With seven players in their top 30 and only two spots available, the Rockies are another team that could get picked over. Former top catching prospect Dom Nunez is available, although the bat has completely stalled out. He’s also not known for defense, so unless the Braves think they can fix his offense, he might not make a ton of sense.
Not listed on their top 30, Josh Fuentes is a guy that has raked at every stop. This includes a 124 wRC+ at AAA where he hit over .300 and 14 home runs. He’s hit over .300 each of the past three seasons in the minors. He’s played 3B/1B/2B, so he offers some versatility. Interesting fact is that he’s Nolan Arenado’s cousin.
While I think the chances are slim the Braves select someone, again, I wouldn’t rule it out. Free Agency is expensive and teams want the Braves top prospects in trades. Taking someone for free could be a wise decision. My favorites include Ian Gibaut and Drew Jackson. Is there anyone you think the Braves should take? Do you feel they shouldn’t draft and just worry about protecting their own. Let me know your thoughts.