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Rays lose 3 players in minor-league Rule 5 draft

Lefty reliever Kenny Rosenberg, who was the 8th player chosen, spent most of 2021 at Triple-A.
Lefty reliever Kenny Rosenberg was chosen by the Angels with the No. 8 overall selection in the minor-league Rule 5 draft.
Lefty reliever Kenny Rosenberg was chosen by the Angels with the No. 8 overall selection in the minor-league Rule 5 draft. [ MARY DECICCO | AP ]
Published Dec. 8, 2021|Updated Dec. 8, 2021

ST. PETERSBURG — Lefty reliever Kenny Rosenberg, who spent most of 2021 with Triple-A Durham, was the biggest name among three players the Rays lost Wednesday in the minor-league Rule 5 draft.

Rosenberg, 25, was chosen by the Angels with the No. 8 overall selection. Right-hander Alex Valverde was taken with the next pick by the Mets. Outfielder Michael Gigliotti went 25th overall to the Giants.

Though most baseball transactions are frozen as owners instituted a lockout given the lack of progress in negotiations for a new collective bargaining agreement, the freeze only applies to players on 40-man rosters, so teams can still do business with minor-league players.

Related: Where Rays stand at the start of the lockout

Which is why the minor-league portion of the Rule 5 draft could be held Wednesday (with 51 players selected) while the major-league portion is postponed indefinitely. Unlike the major-league portion, there are no roster requirements or rules to keep the selected players.

Teams that had space on their 38-man Triple-A rosters could make selections until their rosters were full, paying the player’s previous team $24,500 and assigning the player to any minor-league level. The Rays had a full Triple-A roster, so they were not eligible to pick.

The Rays may have been fortunate to lose only three players. Baseball America had predicted them to be one of the teams “most plundered” during the draft, with pitchers Trey Crumbie and Nathan Witt also expected to have been taken.

The Rays try to take the losses philosophically, said Carlos Rodriguez, vice president of player development and international scouting.

“Our development mission is to do everything possible to help the players in our organization realize their potential and hopefully reach the major leagues,” Rodriguez said. “It’s challenging each year to protect every player eligible for selection given the limited number of roster spots available, and when you have a lot of talented players like in our case, it’s inevitable that we’ll lose some to other organizations.

“While bittersweet to see them go after the countless hours our staff has invested in their development, the silver lining is seeing those players receive new opportunities to get closer to achieving their big- league dreams.”

Rosenberg, a 2016 eighth-round pick, was an invitee to Rays major-league spring training and briefly mistaken for veteran Rich Hill by manager Kevin Cash. He did most of his 2021 work with Durham, going 4-0, 2.35 in 14 games, striking out 43 in 30-2/3 innings, and was the biggest loss.

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Valverde, 25, was a 2017 22nd-round pick who spent the past season with Double-A Montgomery, going 2-5, 4.88 in 30 games (10 starts), striking out 92 in 72 innings. Gigliotti, 25, was acquired in a September 2020 trade with the Royals (who took him in the fourth round in 2017). The speedster was limited to 21 games by injury (abdomen, wrist) for High-A Bowling Green, where he hit .203.

Also, Rays bench coach Matt Quatraro on Tuesday interviewed via Zoom for the Mets’ manager job. He is one of at least six candidates expected to do so this week, with in-person interviews for two-three finalists slated for next week.

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