The Mets added four minor leaguers to the 40-man roster on Friday, protecting them from being exposed to the Rule 5 draft in December.
OF Brandon Nimmo, RHP Seth Lugo, RHP Jeff Walters, and RHP Robert Gsellman were added to the 40-man roster, automatically receiving invites to major league spring training as a result.
The 40-man roster now stands at 39.
Nimmo, 22, hit .269 with 48 runs scored, 16 doubles, four triples, five home runs, 26 RBI with a .362 on-base percentage in 2015 for Las Vegas (AAA) of the Pacific Coast League, Binghamton (AA) of the Eastern League and St. Lucie (A) of the Florida State League. He missed a month with a sprained left knee. Nimmo was named to the Eastern League midseason All-Star team and went 1-2 for the US team in the Futures Game in Cincinnati. Nimmo was a first-round pick in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft.
Lugo, 26, went 8-7 with a 3.84 ERA in 24 combined starts between Las Vegas and Binghamton in 2015. He racked up 127 strikeouts. Lugo was a 34th-round selection in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft from Centenary College (LA).
Walters, 28, was 3-0 with two saves and a 2.45 ERA in 29 games in relief for Binghamton , St. Lucie and rookie-level Gulf Coast last season. He returned from Tommy John surgery on June 22. Walters led the Eastern League in saves (38) in 2013 and pitched in 23 games for Las Vegas in 2014 before undergoing surgery. He was a seventh-round selection in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft.
Gsellman, 22, went 13-7 with a 2.89 ERA in 24 starts between Binghamton and St. Lucie in 2015. He was named to the Florida State League midseason All-Star team and was the Sterling Pitcher of the Year. Gsellman was a 13th-round pick in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft.
The Mets did not add Wuilmer Becerra, Matt Bowman, Travis Taijeron, or Mickey Jannis, meaning they can be taken by other clubs in the Rule 5 draft next month.
It’s a little surprising the Mets didn’t protect Bowman. He is highly regarded in the system, although he had a really bad year in 2015 at Triple-A Las Vegas, going 7-16 with a 5.53 ERA in 28 appearances and 26 starts. But he’s close to big league ready, and a team in need of a back-end starter could certainly take a chance on him for the modest price of $50,000.
As for Becerra, he is a very highly touted prospect, but he’s still a couple of years away, having not played above Single-A Savannah in his professional career. He is most likely ill-prepared for the big leagues, so the Mets clearly believe its unlikely he will be taken in the Rule 5 draft next month, and are willing to risk losing him and not putting him on the 40-man roster only to blow through his first player option in March.
But they’re taking a chance by leaving Becerra and Bowman unprotected none the less.
The Rule 5 draft takes place on the final day of the Winter Meetings in December. The rule is designed to prevent teams from hoarding players in their minor league system for an infinite amount of time.
Any player who was 18 years old or younger on the June 5 before they signed their first professional contract, and this is the fifth Rule 5 draft since their signing date is eligible for exposure. In addition, if a player was 19 years old or older on the June 5 before they signed their first professional contract, and this is the fourth Rule 5 draft since their signing date, he is eligible for exposure.
A player selected in the Rule 5 draft is assigned a fee of $50,000 to his original organization. That player must remain on his new team’s Major League active roster for the entire season. If he is removed from the active roster and goes unclaimed through waivers, that player must be offered back to his original organization for $25,000.