Rule Five Draft FAQs

The Winter Meetings officially draw to a conclusion this morning with baseball’s most confusing draft: The Rule Five.


The Rule Five Draft is named after the section of MLB’s rule book that dictates a draft be held every year for players not listed on their MLB team’s 40 man roster who were signed:

  • When they were 19 or older and have been in the organization for four years; or
  • When they were 18 or younger and have been in the organization for five years.


It’s for players that are toiling away in their organization’s Minor League system with little hope of getting a shot with the big club.  If they get selected in the Rule Five draft, the team that chooses them must keep them on their active Major League roster for the entire year.  If they don’t, they must put the player on waivers where any team can select him under the same conditions.  If the player passes through waivers, the player is offered back to his original team.

The greatest player ever picked in the Rule Five Draft is Hall of Famer Roberto Clemente.  Other notables include: Jose Bautista, Kelly Gruber and Johan Santana.


The intention of the draft is to stop teams from stockpiling young players without giving them a chance at playing at a higher level.


The Rule Five Draft normally takes place on the final day of the Winter Meetings.


Nations from around the world submit bids to MLB in hope that they’ll be given the honour of hosting the Rule Five Draft.

No.  Not really.  The draft is held wherever the Winter Meetings are.

Who Should I Look For?

This year’s version of the draft includes several names that may tempt teams.

For instance, the Blue Jays have left infielder Brad Emaus unprotected.  The 24 year old can play second or third base and put together a combined line of .290 AVG, .397 OBP, .476 SLG in Double A and Triple A this past season.

If the Blue Jays select anyone themselves, look for the team to choose a pitcher that spend the year in the bullpen.

Baseball America has put together a comprehensive list of the players available.