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

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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Dodgers Prospect Watch: Jeren Kendall on the Rise

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(Photo Courtesy of 2080baseball.com)

If there’s one area of the Dodgers‘ farm system that’s stocked more plentifully than any other, it’s definitely the outfield. While the organization was once known as a breeding ground for starting pitchers, the number of talented outfielders in the system continues to grow at a very rapid rate. One particular outfielder, Jeren Kendall, might easily be one of the most athletic players in the entire organization, and could climb the ladder quite quickly over the next few seasons.

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Dodgers Top Prospects by Position: 2017-18 Offseason Edition

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(Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri/USA TODAY Sports)

With all the recent rumblings about how active the Dodgers will be in this winter’s hot stove period, we thought it would be a great time to change direction and discuss a number of the more prominent stars in the Los Angeles farm system. Even if the big league club doesn’t make an overwhelming splash in terms of trades or free agent signings over the next few months, there’s always relief in knowing that the organization is among the best in baseball as far as talent on the farm goes, as there are always a handful of these youngsters ready to step in and contribute.

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Dodgers Prospects: Matt Beaty, Yusniel Diaz Take Part in Fall Stars Game

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(Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Davis)

The Dodgers were once again very well represented at the Fall Stars Game, which is the annual mid-season All-Star showcase featuring the brightest prospects of the Arizona Fall League.

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Dodgers Promote Tim Locastro to Big League Roster

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(Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Davis)

Heading into the final series of the regular season against the Rockies, the Dodgers on Friday afternoon selected the contract of infielder/outfielder Tim Locastro from Triple-A Oklahoma City.

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Dodgers Prospects: An In-Depth Conversation with Dennis Santana

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(Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Davis)

For those of you who follow the farm system of the Dodgers closely, you’ll know that the Double-A Tulsa Drillers had one of their best seasons in recent history. Anchored by the Texas League batting champ and MVP Matt Beaty, coupled with some of the best pitchers in the entire organization, the Drillers came up just one game short of bringing home their first league championship in 19 seasons.

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Drillers Set Sights on Texas League Championship

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(Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Davis)

For those of you who have been fully entrenched in the big league scene of the Dodgers and unable to catch any of the latest minor league action, we have some good news for you—the Double-A Tulsa Drillers are only one game away from securing their first Texas League Championship since 1998.

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Tulsa’s Matt Beaty Wins Texas League Batting Title

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(Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Davis)

Just days after being named the league’s Most Valuable Player, corner infield prospect Matt Beaty continued to rake in the accolades for the Dodgers‘ farm system by winning the Texas League batting title once all the dust settled on the regular season schedule.

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Dodgers Prospect Watch: Matt Beaty, DJ Peters, Walker Buehler & Keibert Ruiz

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(Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Davis)

It’s that time of the year again — the point when all of those who follow the Dodgers farm system can sit back and watch the best prospects in the organization deservedly reel in the many end-of-season awards from their respective leagues across the minors.

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Dodgers Prospects: Does Wilmer Font Deserve a Big League Spot Start?

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(Mandatory Credit: Jacob Derichsweiler/The Oklahoman)

With arguably three of the club’s best starting arms currently on the shelf, it’s difficult to believe that the Dodgers still continue to perform at a tremendous rate of success. And despite a nightmarish impromptu start from young righty Brock Stewart against the Pirates on Tuesday evening, the powerful Los Angeles bats lived up to their high profile billing, guiding the squad to its 89th victory of the year. What a shame it is, though, that the offense was unable to muster just a single run in support of Rich Hill‘s spectacular pitching exhibition on Wednesday night.

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