The annual MLB Winter Meetings culminate with the Rule 5 Draft (alternatively called the Rule V Draft based on the location in the MLB rule book). For the 2010 MLB Winter meetings that draft was today. Before getting to results, here are the basic rules of the Rule 5 Draft.
The draft is meant to prevent teams from stashing away minor league players deep in their farm system and thus potentially spread the wealth of minor league talent to other teams. Each year, teams must protect minor league players within a certain number of years of signing them. If such a player is not on the team’s 40-man roster, they are eligible to be selected in the annual Rule V Draft. The players this applies to are
1) Player has been in the minor leagues for at least 4 years if he was signed after age 19, and
2) Player has been in the minor leagues for at least 5 years if he was signed before age 19 (was 4 years before the 2006 CBA).
There are then MLB, AAA, and AA versions of the draft. For the MLB version, a team can take part if they have an open slot on their 40-man roster. The draft is like the MLB player draft in June in that it is in reverse order of win/loss record. If a team selects a player they pay that player’s previous team $50,000 and the new team is then required to keep the player on their 25-man roster through the entire upcoming season.
If the new team wants to try and move the player to the minors they must first offer him back to his original team for $25,000. Additionally, a player can not just be stashed on the DL the entire season. He must be active for at least 90 days in the subsequent season.
There are also minor league versions of the Rule V Draft that are much simpler. AAA teams can add AA eligible players for $12,000 and AA teams can add any other eligible players for $4,000. The minor league versions of this draft do not require returning the player to his previous team.