Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Matt Chico could get dropped from the 40-man roster to make room for younger prospects.
Which players are fair game to be plucked away by other organizations in the Rule 5 draft? Anyone who signed at age 19 or older and has spent three full seasons in the organization, and anyone who signed at age 18 or younger and has spent four full seasons in the organization. Essentially, this means any players who were drafted out of college in 2007 and any players who were drafted out of high school (or signed out of Latin American countries) in 2006.
In the Nationals' case, some of those players are already on the 40-man roster. Ross Detwiler and Jordan Zimmermann were each drafted out of college in 2007 but reached the majors quickly and thus were added to the 40-man long before they were required.
But there are plenty of other guys who have been in their farm system the last three or four years who have yet to reach the majors but are now eligible for the Rule 5 draft for the first time. I count 15 such players...
SIGNED IN 2007Thus, all of those players are free to be plucked away by other clubs during the December 9 Rule 5 draft, unless they're added to the 40-man roster by Saturday.
SIGNED IN 2006
In most cases, the Nationals are probably willing to take their chances. But several of those names are quite intriguing, headlined by Chris Marrero, Brad Peacock and Brad Meyers. Marrero has been one of the organization's top prospects since he was selected in the first round of the 2006 draft. Peacock has put up pedestrian numbers in the minors but has looked really good in the Arizona Fall League. And Meyers was the organization's Pitcher of the Year in 2009 before a foot injury limited him to only six starts in 2010.
So the Nats may feel compelled to protect all three, plus perhaps more from that list. But in order to do that, they're going to need to remove a few players from their 40-man roster, which currently has only two open slots.
Here's the 40-man as it stands at this moment...
Remember, any free agents the Nationals wish to sign immediately get added to the 40-man, so it appears several of these names are going to have to get dropped at some point. I'm interested, in particular, to see what happens to three pitchers who have spent some time in D.C. in the past but don't appear to be in the club's long-term plans: Matt Chico, Shairon Martis and Garrett Mock. Are the Nats ready to give up on any or all of them? Given the influx of other young arms who have come up through the system, it certainly seems possible.
One way or another, we'll know something by Saturday.