Nov. 22, 2006
DETROIT, Mich. -
Article courtesy of http://www.tigers.mlb.com:
The Tigers finalized their 40-man roster on Monday. They just happened to do it with 39 players.
By purchasing the contract of right-hander Virgil Vasquez from Triple-A Toledo, the Tigers protected all of the prospects they wanted from being selected in the Rule 5 Draft. They still had one spot open on the roster, which they chose to keep unfilled for now.
It is not necessarily a sign that the Tigers have a signing pending. Detroit has filled its roster in previous seasons before making room later for free-agent signings, including Todd Jones and Kenny Rogers last year. The difference this year is that the Tigers had far fewer prospects to protect.
That has to do with baseball's new collective bargaining agreement, which increased the number of Minor League seasons a player must play before he can be selected in the Rule 5 Draft. It used to be four years for players drafted out of high school, and three years in most cases for college-age draftees. The new agreement increased those limits by a year each.
Under the old rules, for example, the Tigers would've had to add right-handed pitching prospect Jair Jurrjens to the 40-man roster or risk exposing him to the draft. The extra year on the limits means that Detroit won't have to do that until next winter.
Thus, everyone who is eligible to be taken in the Rule 5 Draft this winter also would've been eligible last year. In the Tigers' case, they had already moved to protect those players last winter, with Vasquez being one exception.
Vasquez entered last offseason coming off a rough 2005 campaign at Double-A Erie, and he went through unprotected. A year later, he has become a pitcher of note in the Tigers' farm system, thanks in no small part to an eye-opening campaign in the just-completed Arizona Fall League. The 24-year-old right-hander compiled a 28-inning scoreless streak after early struggles in Arizona, punctuating a season in which his 3.73 ERA and .265 average allowed were better than his 7-12 record would otherwise suggest.