Is It Bad To Make An MLB Roster?

Posted by timahuwe on November 30, 2015 at 10:25 AM

I wanted to run a piece on a baseball wives tale. I had to peg a headline that touched on it, but was vague enough to not mention Rule 5 players. Oops, I did it anyway. The wives tale is that a player will have negatives from being on a 40 Man roster. This, of course, seems like rubbish. However, some opponents of the Rule 5 draft in general like to perpetuate that a player is harmed by a year in the majors with Rule 5 stipulations. Today, I want to walk through the argument to see if it holds water.

I need an example, so I'll float Michael Heesch

... going to the White Sox. Doubtful, but let's walk it through.

As of now, today, Heesch is probably doubtful to make the Cubs MLB spring training. He will likely report to Mesa in early-March, though he would be welcomed to show up earlier. Obviously, as I'm a fan of the Cubs coaches, Heesch would likely get good training if in Mesa. However, in this exercise, Don Cooper will be his primary pitching coach until mid-March at the least. Cooper is generally well-respected, except by some Sox fans. Spending six weeks with Cooper, pushing for a big league roster spot, wouldn't hurt Heesch. To the contrary, it would seem to advance his skills.

Dealing with another wise pitching coach would add to his arsenal, not subtract from it. Lessons are gleaned from visitors at MLB training camp, as well. I remember Andrew McKirihan tweeting this...




The tale isn't that being in camp is bad, however. The comment is that Heesch, making $507,500 for the season, is somehow a drawback to him. This is patently absurd. Players who didn't get a huge bonus (Heesch earned a $100,000 bonus, and has been earning scraps ever since) would welcome a year of top-side earnings.. Plugging into a half-mil before taxes would give Heesch, or any other career minor league performer, a really needed bump.

To summarize, Heesch would be helped in camp, and his finances would be helped for the rest of his life, and that of his kids.

But it's a bad thing.

"But, it crushes his development."

He knows where he'll be, at least for awhile. He gets to know the coaches, and builds cameraderie with MLB team mates. Talking with guys in the pen, he learns how to deal with hitters he's never faced. Yeah, sounds crppling. The only way it hinders his development is if he makes the roster. Which was his goal the entire time in his development.

"But he doesn't get regular innings."

This is the closest thing to valid. In Heesch's case, if he were getting regular innings in (presumably) Double-A, he might get in the neighborhood of 70 innings, if he stays healthy. In the show, as a 'last option' in the pen, he'd probably get between 40 and 50. He'd also get in some side work on a day when he might not be likely used in the game. All the time, his efforts would be monitored by a big league staff.

Imagining, as the doomsday scenario progresses, he doesn't make the 25 the next spring, he goes to Double-A or Triple-A. Oh, horrors. His career has been ruined, because he took in about 300 K over six months. Now, gasp, he gets paid the added stipend of a Triple-A salary of a guy on the 40 Man roster. He is also, likely to be one of the first one's called up if injuries happen. If he pitches well the next few years, he is closer to arbitration, free agency, or both.

Yeah, it's gotta suck to make a 25 man roster as the 25th guy.


Donnie Veal

The purest Cub-centric example of this is Donald Veal. He had been in the Cubs system in December of 2008 since 2005. He had fairly zoomed to Double-A Tennessee. There he started 56 of 57 outings, evenly split between 2007 and 2008. He had, to an extent, stalled out. Which is why he was left unprotected.

Looking at his numbers, I'm not sure if a promotion to Iowa was guaranteed. If he earned it, I'm not sure it would have taken. He was on the verge of being a minor league free agent in a few years. However, the Pirates drafted him. He bounced around a few teams, earning 1.4 million in his career so far. He may well get a look in spring training in 2015.

I doubt Veal was hurt much by his time in Pittsburgh, and I'm sure he and his famly are happy to be a bit more solvent. 

Maybe the complainers are upset about specific cases of players who made the parent club roster, despite being ill-equipped for the task. If that's the case, they still got their money. They probably wouldn't have gotten in any other way, and they get a minute MLB pension the rest of their lives. The problem shouldn't be "the guy making the roster, and his development", so much as "the lack of development of the players in the pipeline at the time, which made the Hail Mary of grabbing a sub-standard option appealing in the first place".

In the final analysis, I doubt most of the people decrying how the Rule 5 draftee has his career ruined, really care about said player. They want a more familiar name on the roster. Not that familiar guys are, necessarily any better than Rule 5 guys. But, I'm sure it makes sense in their world somehow. After all, if a competitive team has a better option than a Rule 5 guy, he'll be dispatched, anyway.

Unless, like Hector Rondon, the team sees him as being worthwhile into the future, beyond his first season. With the "Lendy Castillo-case", the Cubs training camp was littered with players that weren't very good in the first place. With commitment to player development at the forefront, the team will have better options now. All roster spots should have to be earned.

Which is a maxim that I'm generally good with.

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