Saturday, April 1, 2017

An indirect Rule 5 trade to monitor

One of the 13 pitchers coming north for Monday's opener is Justin Haley, acquired in the Rule 5 draft. As you probably know, Rule 5 picks must be carried on the active roster all season, which makes Haley essentially use or lose.

In the same draft in which the Twins landed Haley, the Cincinnati Reds selected catcher Stuart Turner from the Twins. Turner will open the season as Cincy's No. 2 catcher.

I don't know if Turner was the guy the Twins left off their 40 in order to make a Rule 5 selection -- it's certainly possible that somebody else would have been the next player protected -- but in a sense the Twins gave up Turner for Haley.

A similar exchange occured in 2015, when the Twins lost left-handed pitcher Sean Gilmartin in Rule 5 and got J.R. Graham. Gilamartin had a better 2015 for the Mets than Graham did with the Twins, and the Twins waived Graham last year. Now they have neither, and my guess is that Gilmartin has a better chance to be a useful pitcher.

Turner was a third-round draft pick by the Twins in 2013. He's a light hitter but well-regarded defensively. But Mitch Garver (ninth round in the same draft) vaulted over him last season in the Twins estimation.

It's far from certain that Haley and Turner will both make it through the season. Turner's fate may ultimately depend on the health of Devin Mesoraco, their intended No. 1 catcher who has proven injury prone and is coming off shoulder surgery. He's opening the season on the disabled list, and even if/when he returns, the Reds may be wary of losing Turner and then seeing Mesoraco get hurt again.

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