The baseball rumor landscape is currently abuzz with news from the winter meetings. But lurking quietly in the background is the Rule 5 draft, which takes place on Thursday morning.
Most people don't know what the Rule 5 draft is, but MLB general managers take it very seriously. And rightfully so.
The draft allows teams to rebuild without risking too many commodities––be it players or cash. The eligible players have been left off of the 40-man roster of an MLB team, and have been a professional for either four or five years (depending on what age they were drafted).
Basically, the draft allows teams to cash in on somewhat older prospects who have worn out their welcome at their current club. But one man's trash is another team's treasure, right?
Here are three eligible players who would help any MLB organization:
1B/DH Jesus Aguilar – Cleveland Indians
Probably the most intriguing prospect in the draft is Jesus Aguilar, a 22-year-old in the Indians' system. He's one of the only players in the Rule 5 draft who has the potential for legitimate MLB power, so teams will be willing to overlook his flaws.
Those flaws being just about everything else besides hitting for power. Aguilar carries a lot of weight on his frame, and it's hard to project him as a plus defender. He also swings and misses too often, a trait associated with most power hitters.
But the size and the raw tools are definitely there. Aguilar is, thus, exactly the type of prospect teams are looking for in the Rule 5 draft: There's no real risk in taking him, but he has the potential to become a legitimate producer of runs.
In fact, the fact that the Tribe didn't protect him from this draft––especially considering their lack of power at the major league level––is one of their most curious moves of the offseason.
RHP Josh Fields – Boston Red Sox
The long, righty reliever scattered a 2.01 ERA across 58.1 innings at both double- and triple-A last season, making his name a hot commodity.
He's certainly got the pedigree to play in the big leagues, too: The Mariners selected Fields 20th overall in the 2008 draft. The real draft, that is.
Long plagued by his inability to find the strike zone, last year he finally appeared to work out the kinks, pitching like a man capable of making a major league bullpen.
Which is good news since, at the age of 27, time was starting to wear thin on Fields' career.
A 27-year-old middle reliever won't be the sexiest pick in the draft, but this event isn't about sex appeal. It's about rebuilding at a fair, affordable price.
Getting a potential major league reliever at discount value is something every team can use.
OF Marc Krauss – Houston Astros
Marc Krauss, a former second-round pick of the Diamondbacks, can really crush the baseball. In 452 career minor league games, he has an OPS of .852.
Not bad for the Rule 5 draft, huh?
Krauss has been weighed down by his limited versatility and his inability to find a position. Since he's with a National League club, the liability he incurs on the outfield has made him an untenable fit.
But if he were to go to an American League club, his big bat could find itself some use as a designated hitter. Either way, he's got a chance to reach the big leagues in 2013.