Over at MLB Trade Rumors they are running a fun little series during the whole “we have no real baseball happening right now” situation about which players an organization would protect if Major League Baseball were to have an expansion draft following the season. It’s been quite a while since baseball has done this, so let’s go with a quick refresher course of who is, and who isn’t eligible for the expansion draft:

Who isn’t eligible

  • Prospects with less than 3 years service time if signed at 19 or older and have no MLB experience.
  • Prospects with less than 4 years service time if signed at 18 or younger and have no MLB experience.
  • Players with 10/5 rights, or players with a no-trade clause in their current contact UNLESS they have agreed to waive that for the draft. They, however, count towards the 15 player limit unless they waive their status.

Who is eligible

Everyone else in the organization.

Who would the Cincinnati Reds have to protect?

The only for-sure answer is Joey Votto. He has 10-and-5 rights. There may be other players who have signed with the Reds who have a no-trade clause, but team policy is that they don’t say whether or not a player has one – so we’re going to just operate on the idea that no one does.

Let’s also remember that this draft would in theory be taking place after the season – so players who will be free agents don’t count here. So mark off Freddy Galvis, Anthony DeSclafani, Pedro Strop, and Trevor Bauer on your lists.

Who to protect from the Reds organization

There have to be some absolute locks, right? There’s Joey Votto regardless of how you actually feel about the idea of someone picking him up. That leaves 14 spots open for the team to use. I think we can all agree that Luis Castillo, Sonny Gray, Eugenio Suarez, Nick Castellanos, and Mike Moustakas are on the protect list with Joey Votto, right? My list would be deeper than that, but I’m certain not everyone would agree with my other picks.

So the question then becomes who else is added to your team? Share your 15 with everyone in the comments section – and if you’ve got a pick or five that you think might be disagreeable from others, explain why you made them.

31 Responses

  1. Hotto4Votto

    Fun exercise, and difficult decisions on a few of them. Here’s what I got.

    Votto, Suarez, Moustakas, Castellanos, Gray and Castillo.
    Senzel, Winker, Aquino, T. Stephenson, M. Lorenzen, Greene, Mahle, Garrett, B. Stephenson

    First six were automatic, and honestly so was protecting Senzel. If I’m reading the rules correct both Hunter Greene and Tyler Stephenson would be eligible. If so, I’m protecting both due to huge upside at premium positions.
    I debated keeping Akiyama over either Winker or Aquino, but I’ll go with youth, upside and control over a guy I haven’t seen translate to MLB at this point. Plus the two make solid platoon partners.
    Mahle hopefully steps into the rotation. Lorenzen, Garrett, and BobSteve hold down the backend of the bullpen. I picked BobSteve over Iglesias due to years of control and the fact Iglesias hasn’t been as dominant a presence out of the pen lately.

    • CFD3000

      I think Greene is safe, but if not you’re right, you have to protect him. The first 10 or 12 on any list are pretty straightforward. I think things get tough when you start looking at Robert Stephenson, Cody Reed, Tyler Mahle, Tucker Barnhart, Philip Ervin, Akiyama and Aquino and, to me, Castellanos and his various exit options.

      • Hotto4Votto

        Greene was drafted in 2017. 2017-2020 would be 4 seasons of service time, correct?

      • Hotto4Votto

        Also agree about the first 10-12. R. Stephenson, Aquino, and Winker were the three I struggled with in comparison with the other options. In my thought process years of control and upside are more valuable than aging quality MLB regulars less only a year or two of control.

      • Don

        Hunter Greene singed 1 month (July 7,2017) before his 19th birthday (August 6, 2017, born 1999), so he was 18 when signed and would have 3 years in minors so he should not be exposed as if signed at 18 or less one must have 4 years in the minors.
        Since he did not have a full 2017 season so he should have 3+ but not 4 years of MILB service after 2020.

      • Hotto4Votto

        Although it’s tough to find a lot of information on minor league service time, I was able to find this from a Cubs Reporter site that was reviewing minor league rules and contracts:
        “For the purpose of determining minor league roster limits & restrictions, a minor league player accrues a year of “service time” for every season in which the player spends at least 30 days on an MLB and/or minor league active list and/or injured list, unless the player spent the entire season on the Injured List.”
        It also said a first year player eligible for the draft (Rule 4) who signs a contract must be added to a minor league roster within 15 days of signing.
        So if Greene signed on July 7th he would need to be added to an active roster by 7/22. Even so, according to game logs, Greene appeared with the Mustangs on 8/8/17 and played his last game on 9/6/17 which is exactly 30 days.

        I’m not claiming to be well versed in minor league service time, but according to what I could find it would seem Greene would be eligible to have earned a year of service time in 2017.

  2. CFD3000

    So… Hunter Greene and Nick Lodolo are safe. I hope Jose Garcia is too. Tyler Stephenson also? Feels like no. Assuming that’s accurate, I’d protect:

    Votto, Suarez, Moustakas, Castillo and Gray
    Akiyama, Winker, Aquino, Senzel, Tyler Stephenson
    Lorenzen, Iglesias, Reed, Barnhart and… Castellanos

    The only real question marks there are Reed (I could see arguing to keep Mahle or Stephenson or even Strop), and Castellanos. I’d have a long talk with Castellanos to see what he’s really planning to do about his options. If he’s heading out anyway, keep Ervin instead. Maybe I’m forgetting someone and I’d hate to lose Mahle, Ervin, Galvis (somebody has to play short) and I’d definitely protect Jose Garcia if he’s not already safe, probably at risk of losing Cody Reed.

    Is there a limit to how many guys any one team could lose? I take it as a good sign that the Reds have at least twenty in Cincinnati and in the system that you’d really want to protect.

    • CFD3000

      Oh man, I forgot about Amir Garrett. This just gets harder. I’d have to protect him over Reed. Sorry Cody.

    • Jim Walker

      Hopefully they would do it like the NHL draft. A team could lose only 1; and, also every team would have to lose 1. This system led to a lot of wheeling and dealing ahead of the draft to stock LasVegas with teams trading players to Vegas in a (gentlemen’s) agreement that another unprotected player would not be the guy picked (or that a specific one would be picked).

      Or alternately every time a guy was picked from a team that team could protect 2 more. would be a good plan.

    • Don

      Jose Garcia would need to be protected. He signed June 2017 at 19 years old and has played 3 MILB seasons (assuming 2020 counts as service for minor leagues

  3. Jeff Walter

    By my math all of Greene, T. Stephenson, and Garcia would need protected (signed as a 19 year-old, ‘18-‘20 is three seasons):
    Votto, Suarez, Castellanos, Winker, Akiyama, Winker, Senzel, Castillo, Gray, Mahle, T. Stephenson, Greene, Garcia, Garrett, Iglesias

    My controversial pick is leaving Moustakas off. I think between getting relative bargains on Castellanos and Akiyama and the different economic world that the Reds are facing, I think they’d should be willing to risk a do-over on his contract. Although possibly mixing the DH in makes the math different.

    I could be convinced to keep Aquino over one of the relievers.

    • Jeff Walter

      I totally spaced on Barnhart. It’s a close call but I’d keep Barnhart over Iglesias.

    • Doug Gray

      Jeff, you bring up an interesting point here….. does the 2020 season count for minor leaguers if it’s not played? *queues up mysterious music* dun dun dun…..

      • Don

        If 2020 does not count then Jose Garcia would not be eligible. This would make a difference to him and the team.

        Greene should not be eligible in either case, signed at 18 and does not have 4 years yet, 3+ if 2020 counts but not 4.

        Stephenson is eligible under any rules as he would have 4 even if 2020 does not count as service

  4. Sliotar

    “I think we can all agree that Luis Castillo, Sonny Gray, Eugenio Suarez, Nick Castellanos, and Mike Moustakas are on the protect list with Joey Votto, right? ”

    Uh … there is zero chance that I would protect Moustakas.

    He is the exactly the type of guy in all sports leagues that traditionally have been made available for expansion. Aging … contract that escalates each of the next 3 years

    (Moustakas – $18 million in 2023, in his age 34 season. Yikes.)

    Exposing him would be a good chance to get rid of an overpay in years that the Reds agreed to.

    The question is … would the expansion team(s) take Moustakas? Without a salary floor to reach … feels doubtful, IMO. Might take a player/pick thrown in by the Reds.

    • Doug Gray

      What you want and what the Reds would do are two different things, though. To be fair, I kind of sent some mixed messages here – I think the Reds would 100%, without a doubt, protect Moustakas. But I also asked what you would do. So that one is on me.

      • Sliotar

        Agree that Reds would protect Moustakas.

        No one in business .. and we all know MLB is a business .. likes to admit a financial mistake early into a new deal.

        The optics of putting Moustakas in expansion draft would be awkward for Williams/Krall/Bell.

        However … that deal looked like a desperate overpay in years at time of signing … “gotta get the hitting.”

        Now … woof. Little chance of over-30 position players getting “the Moustakas deal”, post-pandemic.

  5. Pat

    Why protect Gray for just 1 year? Ask Votto to waive his rights. No one will pick him up and that allows the Reds to protect one more. Don’t protect Moustakas, he might make it thru anyway. In the last expansion draft wasn’t there a limit of 2 players a team could lose? Not sure if I’d protect Castellanos, since he might be a free agent either at that time or the next year. Protect young guys.

    • Doug Gray

      If the world hadn’t caught on fire, Castellanos probably opts out and tests free agency. But the world did catch on fire and baseball claims they have no money. He’d have to go Barry Bonds circa 2004 in order to get a better deal than the one he’s got right now from Cincinnati.

  6. DHud

    Someone help me out cause my brain isn’t working right

    Players who aren’t eligible – 10/5 rights
    Joey Votto – has 10/5 rights

    Players who reds have to protect – Joey Votto

    If he isnt eligible for the draft….why do the reds have to protect him

    • Doug Gray

      He’s not eligible to be left unprotected. The Reds HAVE to protect him unless he is willing to waive his 10/5 rights. He’s technically eligible for the draft if he waives his rights, but if he doesn’t he’s a mandatory “protect” for the Reds.

  7. BK

    1. Votto (10/5 rights)
    2. Castillo
    3. Suarez
    4. Senzel
    5. Gray
    6. T. Stephenson
    7. Greene
    8. Garcia
    9. Winker
    10. Garrett
    11. R. Stephenson
    12. Lorenzen
    13. Mahle
    14. Akiyama
    15. Reed

    I would not protect Moustakas or Castellanos due to their contracts. I don’t see enough surplus value in their contracts, so this is where I would accept some risk.

    Iglesias is another pitcher I leave off due to 2021 being his last season prior to free agency. I believe he would be taken. As a reliever, I would prioritize longer control and less expensive contracts.

    Barnhart and Casali were tempting, but Tyler Stephenson is so close. Tyler has more upside, cost less and has 6+ years of control remaining. Also, there are so few elite catchers, that a backup backstop is not a huge discriminator between rosters. I doubt we’d lose both, but again, not a huge risk if we do.

    My next guy to protect would have been Lucas Sims. Really liked how he looked last year. His curveball provides a different look, too.

    • Don

      BK, I used similar logic/thoughts in mine below. I choose Sims over Lorenzen based on the same logic you used for Igelsias, Lorenzen is a UFA after 2021 and Sims has 3 years of arbitration left. Plus Sims could start where I think Lorenzen’s starting days are over.

      • BK

        Lorenzen is my favorite Red, do perhaps sentimentality got the best of me.

    • Jim Walker

      Given the timing of this draft in relationship to T.Stephenson’s development, I think the Reds have to protect a veteran catcher along with Stephenson. Stephenson is an LH hitter; so, maybe it is Casali instead of Barnhart. Barnhart is cost certain; Casali is an arb guy. However, I believe the walk date is the same for both.

      • BK

        Tyler bats righthanded, and I can’t see others taking both Barnhart and Casali. To me finding a backup catcher via free agency is easier than replacing a quality young, controllable arm.

      • Jim Walker

        @BK
        You are correct that T.Stephson is a RH hitter. Now I am trying to figure out who I had him crossed up with in my muddled mind.

  8. Don

    Since the MLB players association will get the same service for 2020 as 2019 if no games are played, will assume the Minors will get the same deal for this exercise.
    This would mean that Hunter Greene would not be exposed as Hunter Greene singed 1 month(July 7,2017) before his 19th birthday (August 6, 2017), so he was 18 when signed and would have 3 years in minors so he should not be exposed.

    This would mean also mean that Jose Garcia and Tyler Stevenson would be exposed if not kept so that are must keeps.
    That leaves for 13 players and the locks are
    Votto, Luis Castillo, Sonny Gray, Eugenio Suarez,Castellanos (assuming he does not opt out)

    Winker and Senzel to me would be locks as they have a few years of team control left and are the type of player whom a expansion franchise could make the face of the franchise type of players.

    Mike Moustakas, Akiyama are interesting options (more below).

    So that leaves 6 spots and there are only 2 MLB pitchers in the 15 so far and there is a need to keep the pitching.

    Reed, Bob Steve and Garrett to me are 3 to keep as they all can get out left and right handed hitters and can form the core of a strong bullpen and have multiple years of arbitration before UFA

    There are 3 spots left with Lorenzen, Sims, Mahle, Mike Moustakas, Akiyama to choose

    I would probably leave Akiyama exposed and hope based on his age and salary,lack of MLB experience that an expansion team would want to build around him. Keep fingers crossed that his is not taken.

    I would also leave Lorenzen exposed, strictly based on that he is a UFA in 2022 and an expansion team may not want a 1 year player and that Mahle and Sims could start as well as be in the BP and have more years of team control left.

    So my 15 players to not expose are:
    Positions players (8)
    Votto
    Suarez
    Castellanos
    Mouse
    Winker
    Senzel
    Jose Garcia
    Tyler Stevenson

    Pitchers (7)
    Luis Castillo
    Sonny Gray
    Reed
    Bob Steve
    Garrett
    Sims
    Mahle

    I think that would be a core 15 players that the franchise could win with in 2021 and 2022.

  9. JayTheRed

    Quick question? How many teams are being expanded and do they get to fill their entire 40 man roster from other teams when they start?

    • Stock

      Last time it was 2 teams and the limit on losses per team was 2. In fact I think the ML teams got to pull a player back after the first one was taken.

  10. Stock

    First Votto wants to win and if waiving his 10/5 rights helps he does it. Zero chance he is taken. Everyone knows that:

    5 ML Position Players that are easy yes choices: 2B: Senzel, 3B: Suarez, OF: Winker, Shogo, Castellanos

    4 Pitchers that are easy choices: SP: Castillo, Gray, Mahle and Miley (assuming he has a good year), RP: None.

    3 Minor league players that are easy choices: Stevenson, Garcia (assuming 2020 counts) and Greene (assuming 2020 counts)

    ML players on the edge: Moustakas, Stevenson, Garrett, Iglesias, Reed and Sims
    MiLB players on the edge: Fairchild, Antone, Santillan and Gutierrez

    Moustakas is excess after the signing of Castellanos and Shogo. I think with the superior defense Senzel provides he is more valuable at 2B than Moustakas. If an expansion team selects Moustakas the Reds have more money to spend on FA. Let him go.

    To me it comes down to Antone (throwing in the upper 90’s in ST really intrigues me), Robert Stephenson, Garrett, Reed and Sims.

    If I don’t have to protect Greene and Garcia I protect these 5. If I do I protect Antone, Stephenson, and Reed.

    Garrett is tough to leave off but I doubt an expansion team will take a RP with 3 years of control over Gutierrez or Santillan.

    Two players taken: Santillan and either Gutierrez, Garrett, Sims or Fairchild.