Purchased the Contracts of LHP Scott Barnes (AAA), RHP Danny Salazar (A-), and SS Juan Diaz (AA)
Designated IF Luis Valbuena for Assignment
For those who don't know, the Rule 5 Draft is a draft of players not on 40-man rosters and who have been in a professional organization for four seasons. However, there is one really big catch, which is why although there have been some huge successes (Johan Santana, to use a fairly recent example), normally it doesn't work. The drafting club has to keep the player on their 25-man roster all season. Because most of the eligible players aren't ready for the majors, this is a huge inconvenience, especially for a club who has designs of competing, but it can be done if they draft the right type of player. Common types of players drafted are defensive specialists that can run (Wily Tavares, for one), or a pitcher that can be used as a mopup man. And of course the player needs to have, in the drafting club's opinion, enough upside to justify them using a 25-man roster spot all season.
So of the three players the Indians protected, two I'd classify as strategic, as neither Salazar or Diaz would be considered among the Indians' top prospects. Scott Barnes, on the other hand, needed to be protected because not only is he one of the best prospects in the organization, but he also could go into a rotation this season.
Diaz came from the Seattle organization in the Russell Branyan trade. He's always been rated an excellent defender at shortstop, but that's just about all he's shown thus far. He'll be 23 years old, and would presumably move to Columbus this season, but I don't think he has starter upside. He could make a career for himself as a utility infielder, and I'm being charitable: his career batting line is .257/.313/.355, and he's never been young for his level (like Asdrubal Cabrera). I guess what I'm saying is that in this case the front office may be out-thinking themselves here. Yes, he's the type of player that gets selected in the Rule 5 Draft, but in this case I don't think I'd care very much if he was lost.
Salazar has great stuff (fastball sits in the mid-90s), and the only reason why he hasn't pitched beyond Low-A was Tommy John surgery in 2010. He has upside, and he looked good in small number of games he pitched in last season. If he's healthy, he'll probably spend most of the season in Zebulon's rotation. I understand this pick.
To allow for the Indians to add three players, the Indians designated Luis Valbuena for assignment. Now is the time to try to get a player through waivers, as most other clubs have full rosters, but I think someone will take a chance on him. He's been horrible in the majors, but he's hit in the minors, including a .302/.372/.476 line in Columbus last season. Valbuena is out of options, though, which will discourage some clubs.
Because the Indians now have a full 40-man roster, it's unlikely that they'll make a selection in the Rule 5 Draft, and if they do bring back Grady Sizemore, they'll need to remove a player.