Detroit Tigers offseason preview: Rule 5 Draft

Detroit Tigers' new president of baseball operations Scott Harris, center, speaks during his
Detroit Tigers' new president of baseball operations Scott Harris, center, speaks during his / Ryan Garza / USA TODAY NETWORK
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The Rule 5 Draft is tonight, and the Detroit Tigers hold the sixth overall pick

The Rule 5 Draft has been kind to the Detroit Tigers over the past several years. It was the one thing that Al Avila could hang his hat on. He had a lot of success in finding guys in the Rule 5 Draft. Akil Baddoo, Rony Garcia, and Victor Reyes are examples of Rule 5 successes during Avila's tenure. Scott Harris will hope to continue that success.

After a certain amount of time in the minor leagues, a player becomes Rule 5 eligible. This means they must be added to the 40-man roster, or they could selected by another team in the Rule 5 Draft, which usually takes places every December, right after the Winter Meetings, or in this year's case, during the Winter Meetings.

The Detroit Tigers added five players to their 40-man roster to protect them from being selected in the Rule 5 Draft. OF Parker Meadows, INF Wenceel Perez, and SP Reese Olson were among those protected.

If a player is selected in the Rule 5 Draft, they must be on that team's active roster for the entire season or risk being returned to their old team. This happened with Detroit Tigers' reliever Will Vest a couple years ago. He was selected by the Mariners in the 2020 Rule 5 Draft, then he was removed from their roster during the 2021 season and returned to the Tigers, where he became a key piece of their bullpen in 2022.

There are some interesting prospects up for the Rule 5 Draft this year. Jonathan Mayo of MLB Pipeline put together a list of some of the best available. There are a few that could be of interest to the Detroit Tigers.

Dominic Canzone from the Arizona Diamondbacks' system has shown the abilty to hit at all levels of the minors. The 25-year-old bats left-handed and plays first base and the outfield, meaning he could make for a decent contingency plan for Spencer Torkelson.

Another potential option at first base could be Pirates' prospect Malcom Nunez. Nunez was acquired from the Cardinals in the Jose Quintana deal at the trade deadline. He walks a good amount and hits pretty well. At just 21 years old, he could part of the youth movement Scott Harris is looking for.

As far pitching is concerned, Ryan Nutof from the Reds' organization could be a real option. He played collegiately at Michigan, where he had one year of overlap with Tigers' pitching coach Chris Fetter. He had Tommy John surgery and missed the entire 2021 season, but he bounced back with a 2.96 ERA and struck out 10.7 batters per nine at Double-A last season, though the walks were a bit high. Nutof could be a name to watch tonight.

Harris said Monday night that the Tigers haven't yet made a decision on whether they'll take someone in the Rule 5 Draft. If they don't use their first round pick, they'll forfeit their picks for the rest of the draft. They do have an open spot on the 40-man roster, so it's definitely an option. It'll be interesting to see what Harris has up his sleeve.

The Rule 5 Draft takes place tonight at 5 p.m. ET.

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