Dodgers Likely to Adjust 40-Man Roster Ahead of Winter Meetings

Trevor Oaks
(Mandatory Credit: Tony Capobianco)

While many fans identify baseball’s Winter Meetings as a hotbed for trades and potential free agent signings, few realize that the event also features the annual Rule 5 Draft, which is held on the final day of the gathering.

Heading into the meetings next month, the Dodgers need to add two players to the big league 40-man roster or else risk losing them to rival clubs in the draft. Both are right-handed pitchers—sinkerballer Trevor Oaks and the hard-throwing Dennis Santana.

Oaks is heading into his fifth season in the Dodgers’ system after being selected in the seventh round of the 2014 first-year player draft. Santana is also embarking on his sixth official year in the organization after being signed as a free agent shortstop out of the Dominican Republic at the age of 16 in 2013.

Players first signed at age 18 must be added to 40-man rosters within five seasons or they become eligible to be drafted by other organizations through the Rule 5 process. Players signed at 19 years or older have to be protected within four seasons. Clubs pay $50,000 to select a player in the Major League phase of the Rule 5 Draft. If that player doesn’t stay on the 25-man roster for the full season, he must be offered back to his former team for $25,000.

In 2017 at Triple-A Oklahoma City, Oaks posted a 4-3 record with a 3.64 ERA in an even 84 innings over 15 starts before his season was ended abruptly with an oblique injury in July. Across three levels of the farm in 2016, he registered a 14-3 record with a 2.73 ERA with 108 strikeouts in 151 innings of work.

In regards to his pitching repertoire, Oaks, who turned 24 last March, features a sinker, an occasional four-seamer, a cutter, a slider, a changeup and periodically a curve ball.

“My four seam and sinker usually come out the same speed,” Oaks told us in an interview during 2016 spring training. “I try to live around the 91 to 93 range. If I’m feeling fresh might get it up to a five. I added the cutter this offseason for a different look off of my sinker—I primarily use it against lefties. I worked on my slider a lot with pitching coach Dom Johnson. It’s been much sharper this season and I’m hoping it continues to be a pitch I can rely on down the road.”

Santana recorded an 8-7 record with a 4.11 ERA with 129 punchouts over 118-1/3 innings between High-A Rancho Cucamonga and Double-A Tulsa last season. On center stage in the Texas League’s North Division Championship series finale against NW Arkansas in September, Santana threw perhaps the best game of his career, delivering seven brilliant innings of three-hit, shutout ball while striking out a season-high 11 opposing batters.

Santana’s arsenal is also very impressive, and is highlighted by a fastball that has the potential of topping out in the triple digits.

“I think my two best offerings are my slider and my fastball,” the 21-year-old righty told us in a conversation towards the end of last season. “I throw both a four-seam and a two-seam that sinks. I also use a changeup and a bending curve ball. Plus, I’m currently working on a splitter. My fastball normally sits at 96-98 MPH, but was clocked as high as 100 MPH at Rancho earlier in the season.”

Another player eligible for the draft is outfielder Jacob Scavuzzo, who is heading into his sixth year in the organization. It is unlikely that the Dodgers protect Scavuzzo, though, as he went unclaimed in last year’s draft. The 23-year-old native of Orange, CA has a career .258/.310/,433 minor league slash line with 65 long balls, 247 RBI and 43 stolen bases in 513 games.

Other players like slugger O’Koyea Dickson and righty pitcher Scott Barlow had the right to file for first-time free agency at the end of the 2017 campaign. Minor league players become eligible for free agency after seven seasons on the farm.

Dickson and Barlow join other notable players such as Fabio Castillo, Jack Murphy, Bobby Wilson and Madison Younginer who are also free agents and played in the Los Angeles system in 2017.

At the moment, the big league 40-man roster is full, so it remains to be seen how the Los Angeles management crew will make room for Oaks and Santana. A few potential DFA/non-tender candidates include right-handed flamethrower Josh Ravin as well as versatile outfielder Trayce Thompson.

In addition, if the Dodgers decide to do any selecting of their own, management will need to create even more space on the 40-man.

All MLB teams must tender 2018 contracts for everyone on their current 40-man rosters by December 2.

The Winter Meetings commence on Sunday, December 10 in Orlando.

(FOLLOW DENNIS ON TWITTER: @THINKBLUEPC)

 

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15 thoughts on “Dodgers Likely to Adjust 40-Man Roster Ahead of Winter Meetings

  1. It’s a really nice feeling to know that with our great farm system, we only need to create two 40-man spots to protect prospects this winter. That means most of our better prospects are young, even though they may already be in the mid to upper minors. A couple of us have been discussing Jose Miguel Fernandez in a previous thread. I know he’s almost 30 but he did hit quite well this year. One of your other readers mentioned a post somewhere this past week touting him as a possible left-handed hitting infielder to replace Utley while I saw a post that said Tulsa released him. Do you have any info Dennis?

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    1. Strange you bring up Fernandez. A buddy of mine who is close to the Drillers told me this morning that he was indeed released last week, but nobody knows why. There seems to be a lot of mystery around Fernandez. I used to chat with Ryan Garko a lot before he left, but every time I brought up Fernandez he would steer away from answering. I’ll keep digging for more information. On another note, I cannot see any scenario where the Dodgers get Stanton—absolutely none at all.

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      1. Two guesses as to Fernandez, character issues or they discovered he was a Cuban spy. Either way, I guess that we shouldn’t count on seeing him in L.A. next year. Regarding your thoughts on Stanton, never say never. Somewhere in the bowels of Dodger Stadium Farhan is reading this exchange and has just told Andrew “who does that Schlossman think he is telling us what we will and won’t do. I’m calling the Marlins and getting Stanton.” All kidding aside do you think it’s the salary, the prospects or that someone will outbid us?

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  2. I think it is about how the salary will handcuff them in future years. It’s a shame the way the Marlins are treating a guy that just won the mvp. Jeter still hasn’t spoken to the guy, and they want him to wave his no trade clause so they can get a good deal. No respect.

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  3. I would think releasing Kazmir would be a possibility. What a waste of $48M that has been. Other possibilities, I would think would be Font, Paraedes (though he pitched well in limited time) and Ravin who seems to have trouble staying healthy.

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  4. Dennis, I just saw on Roster Resource that Broussard would be eligible for the Rule 5 if not added to the 40 man today. Assuming that they don’t do that, are you confident that he’s enough under the radar that we won’t lose him? I know he’s a favorite of yours.

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