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If the Dodgers do indeed sign Rich Hill sometime very soon like many news outlets have been suggesting, Los Angeles will almost certainly follow with some type of 40-man roster adjustment, mainly to create some breathing room to play in the Rule 5 Draft and open the door for other potential free agent signings in the near future.
There’s already been a bit of fluctuation on the 40-man over the past three weeks. The Dodgers selected the contracts of starting pitcher Chase De Jong, catcher Kyle Farmer and reliever Jacob Rhame in mid-November to protect them from being lost in the upcoming Rule 5 Draft, giving the club a full compliment of 40 players on its 40-man roster. Consequently, the team did not tender a contract to relief pitcher Louis Coleman before last Friday’s deadline, which freed up one open spot, making the current count 39.
The Rule 5 Draft takes place on Thursday at the Winter Meetings in Maryland, yet if the Dodgers sign Hill before the draft begins, the club will need to create an additional vacancy on the 40-man in order to participate. Inking Hill to a contract would automatically move him to the 40-man directly. In addition, any player chosen in the Rule 5 draft must be immediately moved to the selecting club’s 40-man, so, in essence, any team that does not have any vacancies on its 40-man roster may not make a selection.
While partaking in the Rule 5 Draft may not be a huge deal for some, it’s probably considered a very favorable project for the Dodgers’ front office crew, which certainly has the extra manpower to dig deep into the crevices when doing sabermetric research on virtual unknown players. In years past, there have been several gems discovered in the Rule 5 draft, including Roberto Clemente, Johan Santana, Dan Uggla, Josh Hamilton and Joakim Soria. Some of the more intriguing players of this year’s affair are among an interesting crop of hard-throwing pitchers, most specifically Julian Fernandez of the Rockies, Yimmi Brasoban of the Padres and Drew Muren of the Diamondbacks.
One way of creating some much needed roster space is designating a player for assignment, which pulls that particular player off of the respective 40-man roster. Another more intriguing method is to put together a trade with an opposing club. Last month, we discussed a hypothetical deal to acquire second baseman Brian Dozier from the Twins, and although momentum seemed to fizzle early, a number of reports on Sunday morning suggested that the Dodgers’ perseverance has inspired the Twins to become more motivated to increase the discussions.
If the Twins and Dodgers can conceivably reach an agreement, and Los Angles included multiple players in a trade that are part of the club’s 40-man roster, it would free up additional roster space to make room and potentially put the finishing touches on contract discussions with third baseman Justin Turner or anyone else on the club’s current radar.
As far as Hill is concerned, multiple reports that began on Saturday afternoon indicate the veteran lefty is close to signing a three-year deal in the neighborhood of $48 million.