Thursday, November 21, 2013

Setting up the 40

Max Kepler was added to the 40-man roster
in what may have been an unnecessary move.
Wednesday was the deadline for teams to move Rule 5 eligible players to the 40-man roster. The Twins put four players on the 40 -- LHP Logan Darnell, OF-1B Max Kepler, 2B-SS Jorge Polanco and 1B Kennys Vargas. They also outrighted RHP B.J. Hermsen off the roster, leaving them with an open slot.

Of the four, the only one close to earning major league time is Darnell, who split 2013 between Double A New Britain and Triple A Rochester. The other three spent last season in A ball -- Vargas in High A Fort Myers, Kepler and Polanco in low A Cedar Rapids.

I expected the Twins to protect Darnell and Polanco; either could easily have been taken in the Rule 5 draft in December. The other two are less likely to be targeted.

I expected, frankly, to be defending the Twins for not protecting Kepler. He is a very good prospect, but he's also extremely raw. I cannot imagine any team, even the talent-gathering Astros, taking him in the Rule 5 draft and carrying him on their major league roster for the full season. (Rule 5 draftees must be kept on the 25-man active roster or offered back to their original organization.)

There are, basically, three types of players who tend to be picked in Rule 5 and kept, and the third is pretty rare:

  • Pitchers, especially lefties, who can be kept as the last man in the bullpen. (Darnell)
  • Middle infielders with speed, who can be a second utility infielder and pinch runner. (Polanco)
  • A catcher, who might be a backup on a team with a strong No.1 catcher or a No. 3 guy if he is a hitter who is weak behind the plate. 

It's very rare for an outfielder or first baseman to be taken in Rule 5, especially if they're being taken out of A ball. I don't deride either Kepler or Vargas as prospects, but I doubt the Twins needed to protect either this year. Obviously, the Twins see it differently.


The Detroit Tigers traded Prince Fielder to the Texas Rangers for Ian Kinsler. I don't feel like doing an exhaustive analysis of this deal right now, but I will say that:

  • Both teams rearranged talent in useful ways;
  • The Tigers got rid of a really painful contract for a less painful contract;
  • The Tigers got the better end of the deal. My opinion.

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