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Dodgers lose pitchers Brett de Geus, Jordan Sheffield in Rule 5 draft

In minor league phase, Dodgers drafted two players and lost six

Glendale Desert Dogs v. Peoria Javelinas Photo by Jennifer Stewart/MLB Photos via Getty Images

The Dodgers had a pair of players selected on Thursday in the Rule 5 Draft, Major League Baseball’s annual chance for teams to search for hidden gems in other organizations. Pitchers Brett de Geus and Jordan Sheffield were taken in the major league portion of the draft.

Those eligible to be drafted Thursday were experienced players who were not added to 40-man rosters by Nov. 20. On that day, the Dodgers added four players to their 40-man roster, pitchers Gerardo Carrillo, Andre Jackson, and Edwin Uceta, and outfielder Zach Reks.

Neither de Geus nor Sheffield were added to the Dodgers’ 40-man roster, which made them ripe for picking today. The Rangers selected de Geus with the second overall pick in the Rule 5 draft, and the Rockies took Sheffield with the eighth pick, which places them on the 40-man rosters of Texas and Colorado, respectively.

Both de Geus and Sheffield were invited to major league camp in spring training with the Dodgers, and de Geus spent some time on the 60-player pool during summer camp, getting some reps at the alternate training site at USC.

Sheffield was drafted in the supplemental first round by the Dodgers in 2016, out of Vanderbilt. After struggling as a starter in the minors, he switched to relief in 2018. In the last minor league season, in 2019, Sheffield put up a 3.27 ERA between Class-A Rancho Cucamonga and Double-A Tulsa. He struck out 74 in 55 innings, but also walked 43.

The Dodgers drafted de Geus in the 33rd round of the 2017 draft out of Cabrillo College, and after moving to relief in 2019 posted a 1.75 ERA across both Class-A levels, with 72 strikeouts and 13 walks in 61⅔ innings. He was rated the No. 27 prospect in the Dodgers’ system by MLB Pipeline.

Getting selected in the Rule 5 Draft doesn’t mean these players are gone for good. There are conditions to be met before they can stay in their new organizations. A drafting team must pay $100,000 to the player’s old team for selecting him, then has to keep the player on the active roster or injured list for the entire 2021 season in order to keep said player for good.

While stashing someone on the injured list seems like an easy way to keep a player, it’s not that simple. A player needs to be on the active roster for at least 90 days, so if, for example, the Rangers have de Geus on the IL for most of 2021, if he doesn’t get to 90 days on the active roster, the Rule 5 roster rules would extend into 2022, until the 90 active days were reached.

If a player isn’t working out like his new team had planned, and they want to remove him from the active roster, they would have to designate him for assignment. If another team claims him, that new team would have to keep the player active (or on the IL) all year as well. Should the player clear waivers, his new team can’t send him to the minors without offering him back to his original team first. The Dodgers, in this case, would have to pay half the price ($50,000) to get their old player back.

In the last three Rule 5 Drafts, 43 players were selected in the major league phase. Of those, 10 stuck all year on the roster with their new team (23.3 percent). The keepers fit a pattern, on teams with a collective winning percentage of .420, a 94-loss pace over 162 games. The exception was infielder Vimael Machin, who stuck with the AL West champion A’s in 2020. With expanded rosters in a shortened season (though they didn’t know it at the time of last year’s Rule 5 Draft), a higher percentage of drafted players remained all year with their new teams, four out of 11 (36.3 percent).

Both the Rangers and Rockies in 2021 fit the “terrible enough to carry an extra player on the roster” rubric, so there’s a decent chance de Geus and/or Sheffield might stick, but odds are you’ll see one or both offered back to the Dodgers at some point next year.

Minor league phase

In the minor league portion of the Rule 5 Draft, there are no roster requirements, so these transfers are more straightforward. A player taken in the minor league phase costs his new team $24,000, and doesn’t need to be placed on the 40-man roster.

The Dodgers lost six players in this portion of the draft:

  • Right-handed pitcher Shea Spitzbarth, to the Pirates
  • Left-handed pitcher Tyler Gilbert, to the Diamondbacks
  • Shortstop Errol Robinson (sixth round in 2016), to the Reds
  • Outfielder Chris Roller (30th round, 2017), to the Indians
  • Infielder Drew Jackson, to the Mets
  • Infielder Marcus Chiu (15th round, 2017), to the Marlins

The Dodgers did select two players in the minor league phase as well. Up first was taking catcher Ryan January from Arizona’s minor league system. The eighth-round pick in 2016 hit .255/.386/.406 in 32 games across two Class-A levels in 2019. He turns 24 in May.

January was suspended 50 games in 2017 for testing positive for amphetamine.

Roimer Bolivar, an outfielder from the Rays, was also selected by the Dodgers. Bolivar, who turned 21 on Thursday, has yet to play games domestically. In 2019 in the Dominican Summer League, Bolivar hit .323/.471/.432 with 12 doubles in 47 games.