Life of a Rule 5 Draft Pick

Lefthander Travis Blackley, the team's Rule 5 pick from the San Francisco Giants, cleared out his locker at Bright House Field yesterday, but remained with the organization.

Huh? How's that work?

It's complicated, but it's interesting to know the process (if you're a baseball beat writer anyway). Because Blackley is a two-time Rule 5 pick, he goes through a different procedure than a first-time Rule 5 pick, which is clearing waivers and then being offered back to his former team. If Blackley clears outright waivers this time, he then is given a contemplated outright to both the triple-A Lehigh Valley and Fresno clubs. This outright gives the player two choices:

  1. Accept the assignment.
  2. Reject the assignment and become a free agent.

Blackley must choose what he wants to do for both organizations, but if he chooses to become a free agent he relinquishes any salary he might have earned if he were assigned to the minors. Once Blackley has chosen to accept the assignment to triple-A (for both teams) or become a free agent, he then is offered back to the Giants. The Giants have 24 hours to decide whether or not to take Blackley back.

But that's the catch.

The Giants don't know if Blackley has chosen free agency. So if the Giants say, "Yes, we want Blackley back," they would pay the Phillies $25,000 (the price to take the player back) only to learn that player has chosen free agency. Kind of messed up, but that's how it works. Once the Giants make a decision on Blackley, the Phillies and Giants will know where he ends up.