What Is The Rule 5 Draft?


Every now and then, I get a die-hard baseball fan who thinks they know everything about the sport, ask me: ‘What exactly is Major League Baseball’s Rule 5 Draft?’

So to spare yourself from any embarrassment and actually be an expert on Rule 5 day, I took a page out of the MLB.com’s FAQ’s Page to answer all your Rule 5 questions. Read away!

Every year, Major League Baseball holds two player drafts. Most fans are familiar with and have a basic understanding of the First-Year Player Draft, which occurs each June and deals with amateur players in the United States and Puerto Rico. But the Rule 5 Draft, which takes place in December and concerns professional players, is less understood. Below are some questions and answers intended to clarify how the Rule 5 Draft works.

What happens when a player is selected in the Rule 5 Draft?

A team that selects a player in the Rule 5 Draft pays $50,000 to the team from which he was selected. The receiving team must then keep the player on the Major League 25-man roster for the entirety of the next season, and the selected player must remain active (not on the disabled list) for a minimum of 90 days. If the player does not remain on the Major League roster, he is offered back to the team from which he was selected for $25,000. If his original team declines, the receiving team may waive the player.

Once a player is selected, he is automatically assigned to his new organization’s 40-man roster.

Can any Minor League player be drafted?

No. Players who were signed when they were 19 or older and have played in professional baseball for four years are eligible, as are players who were signed at 18 and have played for five years.

All players on a Major League Baseball team’s 40-man roster, regardless of other eligibility factors, are “protected” and ineligible for the Rule 5 Draft.

Can players selected in the Rule 5 Draft be traded?

Teams may trade a player selected in the Rule 5 Draft, but the same rules regarding roster placement apply to the player’s new team.

In what order do teams draft?

Teams draft in reverse order of the regular-season standings. Any team that does not have any vacancies on its 40-man roster may not make a selection.

Are there different phases to the Rule 5 Draft?

Yes. There are also Triple-A and Double-A phases to the Rule 5 Draft. Players put on the Triple-A reserve list cost the selecting team $12,000, and players put on the Double-A reserve list cost the selecting team $4,000.

Who are the most successful players be selected in the Rule 5 Draft?

Roberto Clemente, Johan Santana, Dan Uggla, Josh Hamilton and Joakim Soria are among the notable players to be selected in a Rule 5 Draft.