Put your baseball nerd caps on, kids. It's time for a brief primer on why today is important. For those of you who don't know, November 20th is the date when New Jersey became the first state to ratify the Bill of Rights.
It's also the deadline to set 40-man rosters before the Rule 5 draft.
Why is today important?
It's the deadline to set 40-man rosters prior to the Rule 5 draft. That means teams cannot add any minor leaguers to the 40-man without some outside move (such as a trade).
But, it's really not a big deal.
How is Houston's 40-man roster set now?
The Astros currently have 38 players on their roster currently, leaving two open spots for free agent signings and other player acquisitions. There are some restrictions which make it more difficult to clear space on the 40-man between today and the Rule 5 draft, but they can be navigated.
Are the Astros going to lose all their prospects?
Hah, not really. In fact, fewer players than you expect will be protected. There will be some surprising names left off the list of players added.
The reason is illustrated by this quote from Jeff Luhnow in Drellich's piece.
"Historically, pitchers have been selected more than position players, but you know, it's difficult in this day and age also to stash a pitcher on your roster unless they're able to get outs at the big leagues," Luhnow said. "But yeah, pitchers tend to be the players that get selected moreso than position players.
"I don't (think we have a roster crunch). I think, I hope, that we always feel like the 41st through 45th men are worthy of being on the roster. That means we're in a good spot as far as the talent in our organization."
As much as we can fear that the best and the brightest from Houston's system will get poached, it rarely happens because every other team is in the same situation. There just aren't many roster spots free at the Rule 5 draft and fewer teams still who can carry a developmental player on their roster all season.
Reading the tea leaves (or the innuendoes in both Evan Drellich's and Brian McTaggart's pieces), it appears Vincent Velasquez may not be protected and that former No. 8 overall pick Delino DeShields Jr. may also not be protected. Though he could draw interest, there's also a good chance Roberto Pena does not get protected.
There are plenty of reasons for these three to get left off. In addition to other no-brainers like Ariel Ovando, Tyson Perez and Mitch Lambson (the latter two being fungible relievers), all three of the previous three names mentioned are pretty far from the majors.
The same can be said for guys like Michael Feliz and Jandal Gustave, but both have fastballs that make them theoretical fits in the back end of a bullpen. With Velasquez, injuries could scare off teams (plus the fact that he's never pitched above Double-A). Experience will hurt both DDJ and Pena, but the bigger issue with both is their bats. It's hard to project a guy with little chance to succeed at the plate holding down a 25-man roster spot for long.
Will the Astros add ANY players then?
Yes, most likely they will. But, remember, some of the 40-man additions came during the season. You have to figure that Mike Foltynewicz and Domingo Santana were given big-league call-ups last season in part because they would have been eligible for the Rule 5 draft this year.
By adding them to the 40-man early, the Astros made the decision for today early.
Thus, any actual moves today could be minimal.
So, who gets the call?
Best guess, Michael Feliz gets added as does Vincent Velasquez. Also, a couple guys get taken off, like Alex White and Gregorio Petit.
There is a chance Houston could swing another 2-for-1 trade to clear up that roster today, but they'd have to get things done by 11 p.m. CST. It also does not appear the Astros are in a hurry to clear up their catcher logjam just yet, so expect any moves to be DFAs.
I'm still holding out hope that a Valbuena for Corporan and L.J. Hoes trade could get done today. Since I'm so very, very wrong on every predicted Astros move, it won't happen.
Do you have any useful predictions at all?
Yes. The vampires will be back. I predict the Astros won't announce their moves until late tonight, long after all of us have gone to bed. This will force Ryan, our resident daywalker, to fight the vampires by covering the story in the wee hours of Friday.