In explaining his willingness to deal prospects from the Washington Nationals' system like he did when he sent 2011 1st Round pick RHP Alex Meyer to Minnesota for Twins' center fielder Denard Span, D.C. GM Mike Rizzo explained that it was simple, really. "You have to give to get," Rizzo said, "And we feel that we have great depth in our minor league system. We continue to call upon our scouts and player development to add to that system each and every year and to give up an Alex Meyer for a Denard Span is always a difficult decision to make, but one that we felt fit our time frame, fit our skill set and was something that the front office and ownership was willing to do."
Rizzo said much the same last winter when he traded four prospects to Oakland in order to get Gio Gonzalez from the A's. The Nationals dealt major league-ready pitchers Tom Milone and Brad Peacock, a young right-hander A.J. Cole and catcher Derek Norris to the A's, but Rizzo said he was still comfortable with the depth in the organization even after the deal. "Don't forget we've got another wave of prospects coming, that I think will at least equal and possibly surpass the package of guys that we've given up in this trade," Rizzo said, "With the [Matt] Purkes and the [Sammy] Solises and the [Alex] Meyers of the world. Then we also have a wave behind them of the [Robbie] Rays and the [Paul] Demnys and those type of guys behind them. So, we feel that we're set up very, very well for the long haul."
Last winter's deal for Gio Gonzalez may have weakened the pitching at the higher levels of the Nats' system, but it gave the Nationals a strong rotation at the major league level, and, as Rizzo explained, "We've got a wave of pitchers coming behind them and even a further wave beyond that and I put the onus on [Assistant GM] Roy Clark and [Director of Scouting] Kris Kline and Doug Harris our farm director to keep identifying, signing and developing good, young, power starting pitching."
The Nationals made two moves to protect some of the pitching depth in the organization from being selected in this year's Rule 5 Draft a few weeks back, placing RHPs Erik Davis and Nathan Karns on the 40-Man Roster, but as they departed the Winter Meetings this week, leaving early since they didn't see themselves selecting anyone this morning, the Nationals admitted that they knew they would likely lose some of their prospects in today's draft.
They were right.
The Colorado Rockies selected left-hander Danny Rosenbaum with the third pick of the major league phase of the Rule 5 Draft, taking the '09 22nd Round pick after an (8-10) season at Double-A Harrisburg in which the 25-year-old left-hander had a 3.94 ERA, 3.41 FIP, 39 walks (2.26 BB/9) and 99 Ks (5.74 K/9) in 26 starts and 155.1 IP. The Nationals also had infielder Jeff Kobernus, a 24-year-old, '09 2nd Round pick taken by the Boston Red Sox after a 2012 season at Harrisburg in which the fourth-year pro posted a .282/.325/.333 line in 82 games and 366 PAs at Double-A in the Nats' system. The Nationals, as predicted, declined to select anyone. As per the rules of the Rule 5 Draft, Boston and Colorado have to keep the two players on their major league rosters throughout the 2013 campaign, or else they must return them to Washington.
• Note: Kobernus was apparently quickly dealt by the Red Sox to the Detroit Tigers after he was selected.
• Rule 5 Draft - Minor League Phase:
Nationals pass in Triple-A phase of Rule 5 Draft, but lose LHP Jack McGeary (BOS). #nationals— Nationals PR (@NationalsPR) December 6, 2012
Nationals also lose RHP Hector Nelo (LAD) in Triple-A phase of Rule 5 Draft. #nationals— Nationals PR (@NationalsPR) December 6, 2012