My Fantasy Baseball League’s Inaugural Rule 5 Draft Begins Tomorrow

Written by: Ray Butler

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Are you in a super-committed deep keeper or dynasty fantasy baseball league with a group of people you know relatively well? Looking for a way to increase parity and give the basement dwellers a chance at quick redemption?

Your league should try a Rule 5 draft.

Now I’m not saying that a fantasy baseball Rule 5 draft was our idea. I can’t prove it, but I’d be willing to bet there are several fantasy baseball leagues around the world that do their own version of the draft. I do, however, want to outline what the Rule 5 draft in my fantasy baseball league will look like.

Our league has been open and operating (though we changed platforms from Yahoo to Fantrax because we strongly disagreed with Yahoo’s methodology behind making Shohei Ohtani two separate players) for around a month. Most of our rosters are comprised of 23 players (a few owners have more due to DL’ed players at the end of last season).

The first critical aspect of our two-round Rule 5 draft: Each owner had the right to select 16 of their players PLUS 3 additional NA (prospect) players to protect. That means that most of our owners selected 16 active players and 3 prospects to protect. Rebuilding teams may have selected 13-14 active players and 5-6 prospects to protect. Regardless. Protected players, obviously, cannot be selected by opposing teams in the Rule 5.

All owned but unprotected players (both active and prospects) form the pool of players that can be taken in our two round draft. With a couple of hang-ups… (Note: In March when our league does its normal draft, owners who keep a full allotment of players make their first draft selection in Round 19. The first 18 rounds are normally comprised of players who have simply been kept by owners.)

  1. In the first round of the Rule 5 draft, if owner A selects an unprotected player from Owner B’s team, Owner A must forfeit their 19th round draft pick to Owner B in exchange for Owner B’s 20th round pick.
  2. In the second round of the Rule 5 draft, if Owner A selects an unprotected player from Owner B’s team, Owner A must forget their 20th round draft pick to Owner B in exchange for Owner B’s 21st round draft pick.
  3. In addition to an exchange of normal draft picks, an owner who selects a player in the first round of the Rule 5 draft must forfeit $30 FAAB (30% of our $100 allotment) to the original owner.
  4. In addition to an exchange of normal draft picks, an owner who selects a player in the second round of the Rule 5 draft must forfeit $15 FAAB (15% of our $100 allotment) to the original owner.
  5. Last but not least, if a player who was selected in either round of the Rule 5 draft is dropped at any point during the season, the original owner gets top priority to claim that player in exchange for $15 FAAB (for a player who was selected in the first round) or $7 FAAB (for a player who was selected in the second round).
  6. Owners do not have to make a selection in the Rule 5 draft. They can simply “pass” during their time slot in order to maintain their entire FAAB and current draft picks.
  7. Unprotected players eligible to be selected in the Rule 5 draft who ARE NOT selected are simply returned to their original owner and will be eligible to be kept leading up to our normal draft shortly before Opening Day.

The order of the Rule 5 draft is simply the reverse of the final standings from last season. We on the same page?

Now, does any of what you’ve read so far mean ANYTHING if the pool of players is crappy? Of course not. And honestly, when the idea of a Rule 5 draft was floated in our league GroupMe last season, I was skeptical of what a hypothetical pool of unprotected players would look like.


Let’s just say my skepticism was *slightly* unwarranted.

Here’s the pool of players we’ll have the opportunity to choose from:


C Carson Kelly         C Robinson Chirinos

1B Dominic Smith           1B Albert Pujols

1B Justin Smoak           1B Miguel Cabrera

1B Justin Bour                 1B Matt Olson

1B Eric Thames               1B Ian Desmond

2B Jurickson Profar        2B Willie Calhoun

2B Whit Merrifield         3B Kyle Seager

SS Paul DeJong              SS Troy Tulowitzki

SS Nick Gordon               OF Brett Gardner

OF Dustin Fowler            OF Dustin Fowler

OF Austin Hays         OF Carlos Gonzalez

OF Alex Kiriloff                OF Corey Ray

OF Clint Frazier                OF Jorge Soler

OF Odubel Herrera      OF Steven Souza Jr.

OF Adam Duvall        OF Hunter Renfroe

OF Mark Trumbo             OF Lorenzo Cain

OF Mitch Haniger             OF Adam Eaton

SP Mike Soroka                  SP Jharel Cotton

SP Brandon Woodruff      SP Matt Harvey

SP Jordan Montgomery  SP Patrick Corbin

SP Dinelson Lamet        SP Ervin Santana

SP Tyler Skaggs                  SP Blake Snell

SP Yadier Alvarez              SP John Lackey

SP Martin Perez                 SP Jason Vargas

SP Jimmy Nelson               SP Lance Lynn

SP Zach Davies               SP Marco Estrada

SP J.A. Happ                       SP Carlos Rodon

SP Michael Wacha         SP Aaron Sanchez

SP Ian Anderson            SP Franklin Perez

SP Tanner Roark            SP Bartolo Colon

SP Luis Perdomo               SP Josh Tomlin

SP Jake Odorizzi                SP Amir Garrett

SP Daniel Mengden         SP Johnny Cueto

SP Drew Pomeranz            SP Alex Wood

SP Joe Ross                   SP Tyler Glasnow

SP Francis Martes  SP Mike Montgomery

SP Parker Bridwell             RP Brent Suter

RP Brad Peacock                 RP Zach Britton

RP Alex Colome        RP Fernando Rodney

RP Brad Hand             RP Seung Hwan Oh

RP Archie Bradley           RP Greg Holland

RP Wade Davis                   RP Edwin Diaz

RP Raisel Iglesias             RP Felipe Rivero

RP Cody Allen              RP Roberto Osuna

RP Ken Giles                     RP Shane Greene

RP Corey Knebel

I’ve talked to folks in my league who are *salivating* over some of these names. Because my league mates and I work and are busy throughout the day, we’ve allotted each owner a four-hour time limit to make a selection when their turn arrives (beginning at 6:00 AM each day and ending at 10:00 PM). In a twelve man league, we plan on the two round draft taking about six days. Of course there’s no draft room that can simulate what we’re attempting to accomplish, so we’ll make selections in our GroupMe while updating a live Google doc with selections and a compensation summary.

Yes, it’s complicated. Yes, it takes a minute to understand (we’ve been tinkering on the process for over six months in hopes of perfecting, and I’m sure we’ll tinker some more after it’s all said and done). But take another look at the player list. Consider the agonizing decisions that took place when deciding who to protect and who to leave up to fate. If you consider your league elite in its baseball knowledge, you should welcome different, unique ways of putting your fantasy skills to the test.

I’ll be tweeting updates throughout the next week of our progress, and I plan on recapping the process in a new post once it’s all said and done.

Questions about our Rule 5 draft? Comments on our process or eligible player pool? Feel free to tweet me!

Follow us on Twitter! @Prospects365

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