The winter meetings are now over. For the baseball fan and executive, the winter meetings are the combination of Christmas and a fraternity kegger. Baseball fans look at it as more of Christmas. There are trades, free agent signings, rumors and the Rule V draft. What a blast.
The new collective bargaining agreement has had the effect of limiting creativity. One of the fun parts of those winter meetings are all of the considerations teams must ponder in these situations. In past years, teams had to decide whether to offer arbitration and the signing team had to decide whether the player was valuable enough to surrender a first or second-round draft choice. Those days are now over.
The Rule V draft just doesn't pack a wallop in most seasons. It should continue as it is one way for teams to add to their talent base. There is risk assigned (the player must stay on the big league roster all season or be sent back) and some really good players (Johan Santana and Shane Victorino) have been found there. So, let's not change that. Let's add to it.
To explain the concept behind the Rule VI (assuming there is none currently, if so, just insert your name here) draft, one has to reference their list of card games. A lot of people play different card games with the same concept. In Hearts, you can pass your trash across the table or to your side. There are other card games like "Pass the trash" and "Anaconda," where you do the same.
In order to consider the official proposal, I will list the rules below as they follow. Essentially, it gives teams a chance to get rid of their worst player or worst contract without having to waive or release the player. In most cases, they are untradeable. So now, you can get rid of that player, but you have to take someone else's bad contract or player.
1. Each team can choose to throw in up to three players into the common pool.
2. You must take back the same number of players you contribute to the pool.
3. The draft will be conducted in the same manner as the amateur draft and Rule V draft. The team with the worst record will select from the pool first and so forth. Each team will only be allowed to select once per round (should they contribute more than one player).
As you can see, the rules of the game are fairly simple, but there is a ton a strategy that goes into it. A team like the Houston Astros this past season could unload a bad contract and then have the first pick amongst the other trash. So, do you throw in Carlos Lee (one year left at $19 million) or do you contribute someone like Brett Myers who has multiple years. Of course, they could contribute both, but they would have to take on two players.
Imagine the names that would be thrown into something like this. The Cubs would almost certainly throw in Carlos Zambrano. The Yankees would throw in someone like A.J. Burnett. Barry Zito would be contributed from the San Francisco Giants. Someone would have to take all of those guys and those teams would be rid of them.
On the other hand, players like Zambrano are damaged goods in their current market. Another team might be willing to take a chance on him if they are able to discard their own trash in the process. Teams make trades like this all of the time. The Cubs traded Milton Bradley for Carlos Silva. Neither is playing right now. However, those kinds of trades are harder to make than you think because of the contracts involved.
If this draft were done at the end of the winter meetings, it would simply add to the drama of the proceedings. Imagine following MLBtraderumors.com or the MLB Network as rumors of who was thrown into the pool would surface. Will the Yankees and Red Sox participate and could they help their teams? Will the worst team in baseball be able to improve themselves? It's an idea that simply has to happen.