Every year, there is a deadline to add baseball players to an organization’s 40-man roster. This is often termed as a “40-man roster crunch” because, due to the nature of the Rule 5 draft, there are generally more players to be added to the 40-man roster than there are available.
See, the Rule 5 draft is intended to prevent teams from stockpiling minor league talent and withholding promotions via giving teams an opportunity to draft certain qualifying minor leaguers from other organizations—unless those players are on the 40-man roster. The result is that teams with the most talent end up with the biggest roster crunches, because not only do they have the most talent on their big league roster, but they also have the most talent in their farm system.
The Tampa Bay Rays are one of these teams. Over the past five years, they’ve won at a .599 clip. Even this year, after graduating plenty of talent to the big leagues in the last half decade, they still have a top-ten farm system in baseball. The result is, as Jon Morosi reports, a dilemma that the Rays must solve unless they want to lose promising players to other teams.
Sources: #Rays among most active teams in trade discussions at @MLB GM Meetings. With all clubs facing Nov. 15 protection deadline for Rule 5 Draft, Rays must streamline their rosters via trades or face reality that they’ll lose players in the Rule 5 next month. @MLBNetwork— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) November 9, 2022
What other teams might qualify? Well...the Royals are certainly one.
Kansas City fits the bill perfectly for a team that could take advantage of other teams’ roster crunches. Mostly, this is because the Royals are severely lacking in talent ceiling and talent depth throughout the system. Yes, they have some promising players in the big leagues. But they also have, at best, a bottom-third farm system and a lot of unnecessary chaff on the 40-man roster. Don’t believe me? Let’s go through the 40-man roster.
On the pitching side, Scott Barlow, Kris Bubic, Daniel Lynch, Dylan Coleman, Brady Singer, Josh Staumont, Taylor Clarke, and Amir Garrett are the only slam-dunks. There’s a second tier of young guys who are worth keeping around, a tier that includes Jake Brentz, Max Castillo, Jonathan Heasley, Carlos Hernandez, Brad Keller, and Jackson Kowar. Jonathan Bowlan is a minor leaguer who is already on the 40-man who is worth protecting. That’s 15 players.
The position player side is a little more cut and dry. The young guys are slam dunks to keep—MJ Melendez, Michael Massey, Nick Pratto, Bobby Witt Jr., Nate Eaton, Drew Waters, Kyle Isbel, Edward Olivares, Maikel Garcia, and Vinnie Pasquantino. So, too, are veterans Salvador Perez, Nicky Lopez, and Michael A. Taylor. That’s 13 players.
If you’re counting along, that’s 28 names that are easy adds to the 40-man. But outside those 28 players, man, you’d have a hard time convincing me they are inherently worth a 40-man spot. Brent Rooker? Ryan O’Hearn? Wyatt Mills? Anthony Misiewicz? Hunter Dozier? Arthur Dennings? Those are the kinds of players who fill out the roster for 95-loss teams, and many of you probably had no idea that I made up the last one.
Even considering that Dozier won’t likely be released, the Royals’ 40-man absolutely has room. And whether it’s via the Rule 5 draft or trades engineered with teams like the Rays, well, Kansas City is in a position where they can become a landing destination for promising players who can’t cut it in more competitive organizations. Hopefully, the Royals will be the ones in that position in the coming years. But now, it’s time to take advantage of what they can.