What is the Rule 5 Draft?

A lot of even the most die hard baseball fans haven’t even heard of the Rule Five draft or if they have they don’t know a lot about it or the impact it can possibly have on their favorite team. Honestly, I learned a lot about it last season because of one ballplayer who did make a difference on the A’s,  a tall guy named Nate Freiman.

But let’s first look at what the Rule 5 Draft is and how it works. As stated by MLB.com a team can select any player who is not already on a 40 man roster who has played at least four years of professional baseball since signing at age 19 or who has played at least five years of professional baseball since signing at the age of 18. 

There are three phases of the draft Double-A, Triple-A and Major League. If a player is selected from the minors then the money does not exchange hands between the player’s existing organization and their new one. This changes however in the Major league phase of the Rule Five draft.  A team must pay $50,000 to the team they choose a player from.  The selected player must be kept on their new team’s 25-man roster for the entire season. The player may not be not be optioned or designated for assignment. 


If a selecting team feels the need they have the option to waive Rule Five player and if the player clears waivers but does not sign with another MLB team he must be optioned back to his original team for $25,000.


A Rule Five player must be active for 90 days which stops teams from placing a Rule Five draftee on the disabled list for the majority of the season. Even if the draftee is placed the DL for a number of days the remainder of the 90 days carries over to the next season. Once a Rule Five player has spent a full 90 days on a MLB team their status reverts to normal and they may be optioned or designated for assignment. 


Yes, this all sounds clinical and confusing at first. Now let’s look at Nate Freiman. Freiman who was drafted by the San Diego Padres in 2009, spent the first four years of his professional career making waves but was kept in the minors due to Padres regular first baseman Yonder Alonso. Now eligiable for the Rule Five draft he was selected in the second round by the Houston Astros but by March the Astros had to waive Freiman due to the signing of first basema/designated hitter Carlos Pena, the acquisition of 1B/DH Chris Cater from Oakland and their already everyday 1B Brett Wallace. There was just no room left for Freiman who cleared waivers and was picked up by the Oakland Athletics. 


At this point Freiman had not yet started to fulfill his 90 active days so the A’s had to keep him on their roster those 90 days. Freiman stayed on the A’s the entire year making some important contributions at first base and at the plate. On April 3, he had two hits in three at-bats in his major league debut and it seemed the A’s had found the right handed hitting first baseman they had been looking for to complement their current staple at first base, left handed hitting Brandon Moss. Freiman was also named Rookie of the Month for the month of May after going 13-37 with a .351 batting average. 


The most notable moment of 2013 for Freiman and his real introduction to the rest of the major leagues was a walk off single against New York Yankees’ iconic closer Mariano Rivera. Rivera, pitching in his final season and final game at Oakland’s O.Co Coliseum, came in during the 18th inning of a marathon game to pitch to Freiman. Freiman hit a walk off single to left field scoring catcher John Jaso thus ending what was becoming (I can tell you because I was there) an almost unbearably hot July day that was beginning to turning into evening! Now Freiman has a job with the Athletics platooning regularly with Moss at first base. 


Find the rest of this article on Sports Unbiased your site for all Sports News, Polls and Predictions (and stuff written by yours truly! lol) ….. 

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