MLB's Rule 5 Draft set to cap Winter Meetings

Major League Baseball's annual Rule 5 Draft will take place Thursday on the final day of the Winter Meetings from the Opryland Resort in Nashville, Tennessee

The draft order is based on the reverse order of finish during the 2012 season. At 55-107, the Houston Astros owned the worst record and will hold the first pick.

Some names to keep an eye on early on are Cleveland Indians first baseman Jesus Aguilar, Cincinnati right-hander Tim Crabbe, Boston righties Josh Fields and Miguel Celestino and Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim right-hander Ryan Chafee.

Players who are not currently on their team's 40-man roster are eligible to be taken in the draft, but only after a standard exemption period has elapsed. Also, only teams whose rosters are under the 40-man limit are eligible to participate.

A player who is 18 when he's signed can spend five seasons in an organization before he has to be protected. Anyone who is 19 or older must be protected after four years. Once past that time of service, a player must be put on the 40-man roster if that team wants to keep him from becoming eligible for the Rule 5 draft.

Teams whose players are selected in the Major League phase of the draft will receive $50,000 per player. The players selected, though, must remain on the new club's 25-man roster for the entire season after the draft or be offered back to their parent organization for half the price.

However, the selecting team may at any time waive the Rule 5 draftee. If that player clears waivers by not signing with a new MLB team, he must be offered back to the original team, effectively canceling the Rule 5 draft choice.

Once a Rule 5 draftee spends an entire season on his new team's 25-man roster, though, his status reverts to normal and he may be optioned or designated for assignment.

Several players have succeeded through the Rule 5 Draft in the past, most notably Hall of Famer Roberto Clemente, two-time Cy Young Award winner Johan Santana and 2010 AL MVP Josh Hamilton. Other prominent players selected through the Rule 5 Draft include pitchers Joakim Soria, Matt Mantei and Antonio Alfonseca, as well as second baseman Dan Uggla and outfielders George Bell, Willy Taveras and Shane Victorino.