MLB Winter Meetings: Nationals lose four players in Rule 5 draft

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Washington Nationals didn’t make any selections in Thursday’s Rule 5 Draft but they lost four players, including two in the major league portion of the draft, to other teams.

Left-hander Danny Rosenbaum and infielder Jeff Kobernus were taken in the major league portion of the draft, going to the Colorado Rockies and the Boston Red Sox, respectively. Kobernus was then traded by the Red Sox to the Detroit Tigers.

In the Triple-A portion of the draft, the Nationals lost left-hander Jack McGeary to the Red Sox and right-hander Hector Nelo, who went to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The Nationals were sorry to lose both Rosenbaum and Kobernus, particularly given how thin their starting pitching depth at the high levels of the minor leagues has become with several recent trades, but they understood the risk involved when they did not protect either player by putting them on their 40-man roster.

Procedurally, any player selected in the major league portion of the Rule 5 draft must remain on the selecting team’s 25-man roster for the entirety of the coming season, or they are returned to their original team. Each selection costs $50,000 and $25,000 of that is returned to the selecting team if the player is returned. 

“Obviously you never want to lose any players,” said assistant general manager Bryan Minniti. “You set your rosters and you know you’re always taking chances on losing any of your prospects. It’s never good to lose guys like them — a left-handed starting pitching prospect, a middle-infield prospect — but you wish them well, wish them luck.

“At the end of the day you hope you get them back at some point in the next year.”

The Nationals protected only two Rule 5 eligible players this year, adding right-handers Erik Davis and Nathan Karns to the 40-man roster, so they were aware that several of their players could be enticing to other teams. Here are the Baseball America scouting reports on Danny Rosenbaum and Jeff Kobernus from after the 2011 season — though it’s important to note that both players stock changed with their 2012 performances.

Baseball America’s brief report after Thursday’s draft on Rosenbaum said he “has fringy stuff, but eats innings, fills up the strike zone and keeps hitters off balance with his quick tempo.” As for Kobernus, they said he’s “More advanced than the average Rule 5 pick. Kobernus can play solid defense at second, steal some bases (42 in 53 tries in 2012) and hit a little. He lacks power, but plays the game with a hard-edged, heady approach.”

McGeary, a sixth-round pick of the Nationals in 2007 whom they gave a $1.8 million signing bonus and allowed to attend Stanford University while also pitching in their minor league system, underwent Tommy John surgery in 2010 and has never pitched above Low Single-A Hagerstown. Nelo had a 2.73 ERA with 16 saves as a closer for Double-A Harrisburg in 2012.

The Nationals, who once were featured participants in the Rule 5 draft, were not expected to take anyone, so their passing in each round was not a surprise. 

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About the Author
Amanda Comak

Amanda Comak

Amanda Comak covers the Washington Nationals and comes to The Washington Times from the Cape Cod Times and after stints with MLB.com and the Amsterdam (N.Y.) Recorder. A Massachusetts native and 2008 graduate of Boston University, Amanda can be reached at acomak@washingtontimes.com and you can follow her on Twitter @acomak.

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