First off a piece of housekeeping business from the quickly wrapping-up MLB winter meetings. The Baltimore Orioles will once again participate in this morning’s Rule 5 draft on the final day of the winter meetings. Keep in mind that in the two years that Dan Duquette has been the GM, the O’s have selected Ryan Flaherty and TJ McFarland – both of whom are now property of the Orioles. In effect, when a player is selected in the Rule 5 draft his rights go to the team that selects him. HOWEVER, that team has to keep that player on the 25-man roster for an entire year, otherwise he goes back to his original club. Duquette and Buck Showalter did masterful jobs of keeping both Flaherty and McFarland on the roster over the past two years.
You’ll recall that Ryan Flaherty did actually spend some time in the minors in 2012, although that was acceptable because he was on a minor league rehab assignment. Throughout the span of that season, I remember hearing that the Chicago Cubs were increasingly frustrated that they hadn’t protected Flaherty, and I believe that at one point (and I’m going off of memory here) they even tried to make some sort of trade that would bring him back to their organization. The fact is that both Flaherty and McFarland were probably not quite ready for “the show,” however they were ready enough to make an impact. Someone asked me last week who I thought was Duquette’s best aquissition since coming to the O’s, and I found Ryan Flaherty’s name coming out of my mouth. And we shouldn’t discount TJ McFarland either, as he provided a lot of great innings in long relief for the Orioles last year.
The fact is that both players made sizable impacts over time for the O’s, and they’ll be looking for someone else that can do the same in the draft this morning. On the other hand, the Orioles didn’t protect minor league catcher Caleb Joseph from the Rule 5 draft, so there’s a chance another team might select him as a Rule 5 player and thus have the chance to use him on their roster. However many players end up not making it and get sent back to their original teams; Flaherty and McFarland are the exceptions in a sense. Can the Orioles find another diamond in the rough today? Time will tell!
Update: The O’s selected Michael Almanzar, a third baseman from the Boston organization in this morning’s Rule 5 draft. Almanzar is a guy who was signed to a seven-figure bonus as a teenager with the BoSox, however has struggled throughout his time in the minors. As is stated above, in order to keep Almanzar in the organization the O’s will have to carry him on their 25-man roster all season long.