Early Look at the Pirates Rule 5 Draft Protections

When it comes to the baseball calendar, there can’t be an event more unsubstantial that drives more discussion and consternation amongst a fan base than the Rule 5 Draft.

That is why, at any point in the season, one can drop it as a topic of discussion and most everyone will have something to say.

With the trade deadline behind us—the event most likely to bring new prospects in—I thought I’d take a quick look at who’s eligible and who’s likely to be protected.

What’s nice is that if you know how to count, a player’s status is known the minute they sign, so it’s something that can be discussed anytime. It is possible the names change as the season wraps up, so maybe we can revisit this topic in a few weeks, but for now, here’s a quick look at the names you’re likely to hear in the months ahead.

Keep in mind, this is strictly my opinion. If you want to see the lists I was working off for yourself, check out my handy dandy Rule 5 spreadsheet.

Eligible, but likely to be added before the end of the season

Cam Alldred

Ji-hwan Bae

Cody Bolton

If not for recent injures, both Bolton and Bae may have been up already, but I foresee both making it up at some point by season’s end.

If no one picked up Alldred on waivers, they aren’t doing it in the draft, but this is just to say he could find himself on the roster before the season is over.

Not taken before, won’t be now

Omar Cruz

Santiago Florez

Abrahan Gutierrez

Mason Martin

Hunter Stratton

Eddy Yean

These are names that could have fallen in the next group, but I gave them their own, as they have been left unprotected and subsequently unselected before. Outside of massive jumps in performance or new developmental changes, players who go unselected tend to stay that way.

It’s slightly disingenuous to list Cruz, Martin, and Yean here, as they didn’t have the opportunity to be selected. Personally, I don’t think they would have been, and for different reasons, are trending that way right now.

Sound and fury, signifying nothing

Every year, there is a subset of fans who don’t seem to quite understand how the draft actually works, who want to protect 15 prospects. Here is a new list of names history says won’t be taken, but they will be discussed nonetheless:

Andres Alvarez

Ricky DeVito

Maikol Escotto

Adrian Florencio

Alexander Mojica

Malcom Nuñez

Blake Sabol

Connor Scott

Aaron Shackelford

The miscalculations here could be for any number of reasons: names recently acquired in trades, which leads fans to believe the front office doesn’t want to risk losing them (DeVito, Escotto, Nuñez, Scott); names whose performance hasn’t matched their perceived prospect status (Escotto, Mojica, Scott); big performance not matching prospect status (Alvarez, Shackelford); or just fan favorites (Sabol).

Nuñez is obviously the controversial decision here, but I just don’t see his profile (bat and corner only) as being one highly sought after. Maybe I’m wrong, but I don’t think I am.

I could go either way

J.C. Flowers

Matt Fraizer

Carlos Jimenez

Dariel Lopez

Rodolfo Nolasco

Tahnaj Thomas (previously not added)

Noe Toribio (previously not added)

Jared Triolo

Now we’re into the territory of players who possibly could get protected, but for whatever reason, I just don’t want to call them locks.

Names like Jimenez and Nolasco are too far away, in my opinion. Players like Fraizer and Triolo have looked like possibilities at different points over the last year, but I’m not ready to put them over the top just yet.

I really didn’t have Lopez on my radar—shame on me as an avid P2 reader—but after FanGraphs listed him as a “must-add”, I took another look and felt comfortable putting him here.

Locks, for now

Mike Burrows

Matt Gorski

Endy Rodriguez

While some may have included Burrows in the first group, I’m more comfortable with him here for now, given how his transition to Triple-A has gone.

I waffle on Gorski’s inclusion here, but despite an injury, I think he did enough to cement his status this offseason. He is the most unsure I am on this list right now.

Rodriguez, on the other hand, I am as certain as I could be at this point.

Other players of note, previously unprotected

Angel Basabe

Jacob Gonzalez

Fabricio Macias

Oliver Mateo

Luis Peralta

Colin Selby

Other players of note, newly eligible

Carter Bins

Sergio Campana

Joelvis Del Rosario

Jack Herman

Juan Jerez

Trey McGough

Enmanuel Mejia

Luis Ortiz

Pirates Payroll Updates

—Yoshi Tsutsugo was mercifully given his release, meaning that the team will be paying $1,340,659 in Termination Pay, unless he finds his way to another team somehow, of course.

—The team made a backup catcher swap, claiming José Godoy and designating Taylor Davis. Godoy had .029 days of service and two options remaining entering the season, with another .013 days accrued this season. He has also been on assignment long enough to use an option this season, meaning he’ll have one remaining going into 2023, with six full years on contractual control remaining.

The claim of Godoy raised payroll $238,462, while the subsequent outright of Davis lowered it $191,555, netting out to $46,907.

—Another claim was made over the weekend, with Kevin Padlo coming in and being immediately optioned to Indianapolis.

Padlo has accrued .022 days of service coming into this season, while using options in 2020 and 2021. He has accrued .015 days in 2022 and has been down long enough to use an option, meaning he will have no options remaining after this season, with six full years of contractual control left. He has also been optioned four times this season, meaning he’s pushing up against the new five-option limit for the season.

Payroll went up $36,988 after the claim, while the team is now on the hook for $421,429 of Jake Marisnick’s salary, again, unless he finds his way to another major league job before season’s end.

—The swap of Rodolfo Castro and Cal Mitchell resulted in a mere $1,593 bump, as Castro is making a prorated $705,000 and Mitchell is at $700,000.

—Payroll stands at $60,591,733 for the Labor Relations Department, while it’s $73,625,982 for CBT purposes.

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A longtime Pirates Prospects reader, Ethan has been covering payroll, transactions, and rules in-depth since 2018 and dabbling in these topics for as long as he can remember. He started writing about the Pirates at The Point of Pittsburgh before moving over to Pirates Prospects at the start of the 2019 season.

Always a lover of numbers and finding an answer, Ethan much prefers diving into these topics over what’s actually happening on the field. These under and often incorrectly covered topics are truly his passion, and he does his best to educate fans on subjects they may not always understand, but are important nonetheless.

When he’s not updating his beloved spreadsheets, Ethan works full-time as an accountant, while being a dad to two young daughters and watching too many movies and TV shows at night.

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Let the wringing of hands and the gnashing of teeth begin!!!! Rule 5 season has begun!!!!


It was reported that The Jays were close to signing Yoshi yesterday. They signed Polanco after he was cut last year. Seems like Toronto has a thing for Bucco cast offs 🙂


I think no matter how close or far from Pittsburgh Thomas, Lopez and Bolton will be on the 40 along with Bae, Rodreguez and Burrows. Surely there are 6 losers on the current


It would seem odd to roster Lopez given his level, but that bat as a 20-year-old in high A would seem to be tempting to a rebuilding team like the A’s, Nats, or Royals. If BA says he’s a must, I’d go with that.

Nunez will be an interesting case–normally I’d say no, but if they liked him enough to trade for him, I’d lean yes. The next month now that he’s not playing in a hitter’s park may go a long way to determining what they do.

The group of Alvarez, Fraizer, Gorski, Sabol, Shackleford, and Triolo is an interesting one to consider. All are about the same age and have shown stretches of outstanding offense. Most (maybe all, not sure about Shackleford) bring defensive value that provides enough of a floor that might allow them to stick with a MLB team. And of course there is no way we can roster a majority of them. Who do we like best–pick two?


I do not see Nunez getting protected. Not much chance he gets selected as a corner infielder.

I don’t see any of Alvarez, Frazier, Sabol, Shackelford or Triolo getting protected. The first 4 have intriguing at times, but also have fallen on herd times this year. Not the type of player selected in the draft. I like Triolo, and is maybe 50/50 whether protect him. He is not that far from AAA, and with his Defense, someone might take him and try to make him into a super, utility player. He just seems like the type of player that might be picked in the draft.

Gorski is also a tough decision. His power is intriguing, but because of the injury may not have a lot of chance of being selected. On the other hand, would not look good if the Pirates lost him, so might protect him because of that.


I’m not one of Anthony’s “15 prospects” need protected guys but I probably tend to recommend more players getting protected than necessary. In any case, Triolo has struggled (Triolo and Fraizer were my two biggest disappointments when the roundtable covered that topic) but he has really come on lately (.832 OPS in July (just after the roundtable :)) and 1.1053 OPS so far in August). Given his defense at 3B and SS, I feel certain that some team would draft him. Sabol, my other guy from that group I’d protect, had his two best months in April and May though his July was also very good. Whether he should be protected comes down to his catching skills–is C a position he can play or is he seen as someone who can be a plus defender?


I like Sabol, but I do not think he is the type of player that would be drafted in the MLB phase of the Rule 5 draft. I doubt they will protect Sabol.

Triolo on the other hand is the type player that might get drafted, and even has a good chance he would be drafted. While he has not hit as good as last year, he has been pretty consistent with the bat most of the year. He could play almost anywhere in the infield and outfield, so he could be another JHay. He plays exceptional D. A case could also be made, that he could handle AAA right now. If he could handle AAA, he might not be that bad in the show, so you are not necessarily wasting a spot with him. He is the type of player you might be able to keep all year, and might even contribute some.


For my two, I think I’d go with Sabol (being able to catch adds value) and Triolo (gold glove defense always has a place). It would be really tough to leave Gorski off after what he was doing prior to the injury but it would be a big jump for him to stick with an MLB team after such limited time in AA.

Bucs'N'Pucks (Jeff Reed)

I struggle with D-Lo and Jimenez cause they’re young enough a team might be willing to burn a year of development.

Being the president of the Sabol fan club, I have to argue in favor. He’s hit well all season in AA, and he might not be atop the catcher depth chart, but he might be the closest viable option for most of next season if the bat plays in Indy. Along with playing OF.

Past that, my very spicy take, is I’d protect Triolo over Marcano if it came to it.


The new Super Utility Catcher 🙂


It is when the plan calls for pinch hitting your catcher every game!


When the Pirates had Michael Perez, the plan did call for pinch hitting for the catcher every game, but he is finally gone now.

Bucs'N'Pucks (Jeff Reed)

I didn’t say it was good reasoning, I just said I had to argue in favor lol


Triolo over Marcano in a heartbeat.


Cannot agree with that. Marcano is about 1.5 years younger, and is through AA, AAA, and now has 100+ AB’s in MLB. Also plays multiple positions – MI, LF. Triolo is 2 levels below at AA and is primarily a 3B. Not much future with Hayes locked in for many years at 3B.

So far, both put the ball in play, excellent BB/K rates, OBP, and I think Marcano may either be equal to Triolo in power or better. And, the Pirates just picked up Padlo, 25, as the RH hitting 1B/3B.

I like both Triolo and Marcano, but if I had to keep one and dump the other, Marcano would be my pick to keep.


Jimenez seems like someone a team would try to stash in the pen like we did with Oviedo. That could mess with his development but I don’t know how much teams factor that in. (I’ll always think the Brewers taking Wang completely derailed his career, and it also may have cost them a playoff spot that year.)


I can see the benefit of keeping him, but I still see him listed by BR and BA as 6’2″ 140. Those numbers have been the same for almost 2 years, when he was predicted to build velocity when he started to fill out his frame. He is still pitching well for being only 20. Help?


Jimenez is definitely not 6’2” 140

A better guess for his size can be found in the 2022 media guides

The Oakland A’s have placed all of those documents online …

Also Malcom Nunez is much larger than his listed size


Bucs'N'Pucks (Jeff Reed)

My other thing is that there is so much meh on the 40 as it is that they could off-load so many, add 6-8 guys, and probably still have room for 5-6 FA additions


Agree, it makes great sense, especially the part about “real players”. How many years of “fillers” should be allowed?

I hope that the personnel actions of the Pirates in the next week or two will greatly impact the discussion of the Rule 5. Then I think about that saying that begins with “Wish in one hand . . . . . .

Bucs'N'Pucks (Jeff Reed)

Well I’m not necessarily saying they should, more that they could. I agree with you. But I also think the roster as it is presents the opportunity that they could. While being players in the FA market. They have Hayes, Cruz and Newman, do they really need all of Padlo, Park, Marcano, Castro, and Diego? Not even including Vanmeter hitting FA.

I think they could stand to add a more trustworthy OF, which would then beg the question of would they carry that many OFs? Cause addition of Gorski would put them at 8, with Gamel leaving for FA.


Good info Ethan — Might be helpful if you could clarify the rules of the draft — a selecting team must keep the player on the active roster for the full season (or something similar, iirc). Certainly teams play IL games, etc., but it seems unlikely that a team will use a roster spot for a season — particularly for a position player.

Pitchers can be stashed and used in mop ups, etc. I would also be a little concerned about catchers, since there are so few decent ones out there, a team might be willing to roll the dice on a back-up type.


I’m a big Lopez fan, but it doesn’t make sense to protect a Bat only Hi-A prospect.


There’s another lens here, which is how many outfielders can this team realistically carry on the 40-man?

Gorski “must-add”
Fraizer “could go either way”

And of course Marcano and Bae have/may play plenty on the grass too.

That’s a lot of spots to commit for a team that currently has only one sure-fire starter. I think Allen and Madris are very likely outrighted, they only add Gorski and sign an outfielder over the winter.


I agree with your list as well, except I doubt they add Frazier. I also agree with you they will probably DFA Allen and Madris after the season. That is assuming neither one starts hitting the cover off the ball in the next month. Especially if Madris started hitting over .300 in the next month, then they might keep him.


Frankly the way BC constructed his roster in the early season I don’t think he considered it either. Which means he might well not consider it again this offseason and carry 9 outfielders or whatever, and when a pitcher goes down in March he’ll do something short-sighted like DFA Smith-Njigba.


Time to start trading from surplus to address the pen, 1b, etc…


I was hoping we’d do some of that at the deadline. There’s still time after the WS before setting 40-man rosters and perhaps that’s what BC was alluding to when he said that they learned “tons” about what they might be able to do in the offseason.


A healthy Gorski would’ve been the Jack Suwinski/Hoy Park/Diego Castillo in a trade for an Adam Frazier/Clay Holmes type.

I figure that would piss fans off doubly, lol.


Bucs'N'Pucks (Jeff Reed)


Love the intro, as it is definitely the perfect exercise in overblown speculation, but somehow still feels so urgent. My priorities would be Bae, Bolton, Burrows, Endy, Gorski, Jimenez, Nuñez.


You wonder if fans of organizations who actively try winning baseball games stress over Rule 5 nearly as much. At least for me, it fills a void that would normally be taken up by evidence of your favorite club doing shit that actually matters.

Last edited 1 year ago by NMR

Bae & Bolton, none of the rest got my heart beating fast. Could be a lack of coffee, too.


Speak of McGough…Where has he been? IL?

Bucs'N'Pucks (Jeff Reed)

He went on the newly created season ending injury list early on in the season.

Wilbur Miller

Out for the year. Not sure what it was. He was just at a point where he could have earned a callup with good performance. Unfortunate timing.


Yeah, I liked Trey


They should add a rule that all expansion teams should not have to go thru the Rule V draft. 🙂 🙂

I would not protect Alldred and I doubt that they will. Other than Endy and Bae, I see nobody on the rest of the possibilities that are needle movers. And, I am a big Triolo fan. They are all ‘bit’ parts on a good team. This system, imo, is not as good as ‘experts’ are making it out to be.


Endy in ‘23 will be like Peggy this year. Spend most of year in AA but could be called up for a game or series of injuries arise.


No, no, NO, not the rule 5 CRUNCH!!,!,!


Gonna be lots of bullets being sweated by Pirates fans if the guys on the “I could go either way” list are exposed.


Meh. Fans tend to over rate their own prospects. There’s only a couple of Top 10 guys there. Fraizer seems to have shown that last year was a fluke.


I’ll be curious to see how guys like Gorski (assuming he resumes making at AA) and Shackelford do with the move up to AAA. It seems like the Bucs have been able to get guys to make a pretty big jump in production on the A+/AA transition. Fraizer obviously fizzled in AAA (so I don’t think he needs protecting unless he goes gonzo in winter ball somewhere). Gorski was on a nearly identical trajectory. Shackelford has been more consistent but is still producing at AA. So, is Fraizer an outlier or signs of a limitation in the development path for similar guys?


I liked Gorski’s 2022. I hope that he is for real.


Fraizer never made it to AAA. Fizzled in AA. Shackelford will be 26 in 2 months. If he was performing like this in AAA then maybe I’d think about him.


You are right. Wishful thinking on my part. All the more reason not to protect Fraizer this year. Shackelford is a really interesting case. I’d guess he does not get protected and probably won’t get picked despite his versatility.


Especially so during a tedious rebuild.


And while 2023 is looking a little brighter on the SP side, the offensive side is looking as bad or worse. Very discouraging.


Jimenez will be added. No chance they’ll lose a SP protest for a cal Aldred type.


That one is tuff. Probably not being picked at 19, but can’t afford to lose him.


starts his clock too early, bad move for relatively little risk of losing him.


Hadn’t thought of that. Good point!


I think Thomas and Triolo move to the must add category.


Triolo is better prospect but unlikely to be picked.


I like Triolo a lot, but doubt he would get picked. Most teams in the MLB phase take pitchers. It is easy to hide a pitcher than a position player.

Thomas is the type of pitcher I could see getting picked, but while he is improved a lot this year with the move to the pen, I could also see the Pirates feeling like he is not a huge loss if they lost him.

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