Washington Nationals Have To Decide Which Rule 5 Eligible Players To Protect Before Tonight's Deadline

Brad Mills-US PRESSWIRE

The Washington Nationals have decisions to make before tonight's deadline to add Rule 5 eligible players to the 40-Man Roster.

When Washington Nationals' general manager Mike Rizzo talked to Washington Post writer Adam Kilgore at the end of the recently-completed GM Meetings, the 51-year-old Nats' executive told the WaPost reporter he thought the pitching and infield depth in the organization might allow them to trade for what they need this winter. Rizzo admitted to what he described as, "... a little drop-off in Triple A," but said, "... then you go four or five deep in guys who are going to be here the next wave, in ’14: [Alex] Meyer, [Sammy] Solis, [Matt] Purke, [Nathan] Karns. Those are four guys that are pretty coveted around baseball."

Solis, 24, a 2010 2nd Round pick [Tommy John surgery] and Purke, 22, a 2011 3rd Rounder [shoulder] are coming off injuries and surgeries. Meyer, the Nationals' second of three 1st Round picks in 2011, had a strong first season in the organization, going (10-6) with a 2.86 ERA, 45 walks (3.14 BB/9) and 139 Ks (9.70 K/9) in 25 games and 129.0 between Class-A Hagerstown and High-A Potomac.

Nathan Karns, 24, was (11-4) with a 2.17 ERA, 47 walks (3.65 BB/9) and 148 Ks (11.48 K/9) in 24 games, 18 starts and 116.0 IP between Hagerstown and Potomac in his second season on the mound in the Nats' system. The right-hander selected out of Texas Tech University in the 12th Round of the '09 Draft, missed the entire 2010 season with an elbow injury, but was impressive enough in 2012 to earn the Nats' Minor League Pitcher of the Year Award.

If the Nationals want to avoid the possibility of Karns being selected in the Rule 5 Draft by one of the teams out there that might covet the pitcher as the Nats' GM said, the Nationals will have to add the right-hander to the 40-Man Roster before 11:59 pm EST tonight. The Nationals have until then to add any Rule 5 Draft eligible players to the 40-Man. Those players that must be protected are any that were 18-years-old or younger when signed who have five years of minor league service time in, and any players who were 19-years-old when they signed and have put in at least four years of service in the minors.

Any team that selects a player in the Rule 5 Draft must keep the player on their 25-Man Roster throughout the season following the draft or return them to their original team. Among those eligible for the Rule 5 Draft this year who will have to be added to the Nats' 40-Man Roster tonight or risk being exposed are: RHPs Karns, Paul Demny (who just completed a stint in the AFL), Jeff Mandel, Brad Meyers (who was selected by the NY Yankees last year and returned), Erik Davis and Rob Wort, LHP Danny Rosenbaum, outfielders Destin Hood, Erik Komatsu (who was selected by St. Louis last winter) and Justin Bloxom and infielders Josh Johnson and Jeff Kobernus.

The Nationals have until just before midnight to make any additions to the 40-Man Roster which currently stands at 36 players. More info on which players have been added to the roster when it's available...

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