Rule 5 Draft Protection Deadline Is Today

November 20th marks the next key date on the offseason schedule, as teams must add Rule 5 Draft-eligible players to their 40-man rosters to protect them or risk another team taking them in the Rule 5 Draft. The Yankees currently have 36 players on their 40-man roster and a handful of remaining non-tender candidates, and as usual, they have an interesting batch of Rule 5-eligible guys.  The headliner of the group is Tyler Austin, the 22-year-old corner outfielder and infielder coming off a .275/.336/.419 season at Double-A Trenton and a strong showing in the AZFL.  Righty relievers Branden Pinder, Mark Montgomery, and Dan Burawa are all eligible, and all 3 spent time in the SWB bullpen in 2014.  Former top prospect Mason Williams is also eligible for the first time.  He still possesses multiple elite-level tools, but he could be left exposed after 2 straight years of very poor production and reported attitude and off-the-field problems.

Other organizational guys like Zach Nuding, Kyle Roller, Matt Tracy, and Cito Culver are also eligible, and it's very possible that another team could want to take a look at them.  They represent the players most likely to not be protected by today's deadline, and all in all I think we'll see many more players left unprotected this year than in years past.  The Yankees simply have too many pieces to add at the Major League level and they're going to need all the 40-man spots they can get.  If that means dangling a Williams or a Pinder and hoping they make it through, so be it.

My prediction for today is only Austin and Williams getting added, maybe one of the Triple-A arms if the Yankees make a move somewhere else today to open another spot.  Austin swung the bat better the further he got from his wrist problems of 2013 and there's a non-zero chance that he factors into the Major League right field picture in 2015.  Because of the tools and potential, the Yanks won't want to let Williams walk yet just to see him figure it out and break in somewhere else.  Even if he doesn't factor into the outfield picture because of Ellsbury, he can be valuable as a trade chip if he starts to hit again.

We'll have all the updates on who gets added and who doesn't as the day goes on.