Originally Posted by Beth
OK, I don't get this Rule 5 draft thing. Anyone can just come take any of our minor league guys?
Hey Beth, I had this webpage bookmarked. This is a good explanation and is easier to understand than the official rule book.
Baseball America: Rule 5
Below I've pasted the meat of the explanation but it is pretty cool to read the whole thing.
Major league teams must protect players on their 40-man rosters within three or four years of their original signing. Those left unprotected are available to other teams as Rule 5 picks.
Players who were 18 or younger on June 5 preceding the signing of their first contract must be protected after four minor league seasons. Players 19 and older must be protected after three seasons.
But here's the kicker: To prevent teams from drafting players willy-nilly, each Rule 5 pick must be kept in the major leagues the entire following season or be offered back to his former team for half of the $50,000 selection price. Few players are ready for such a jump, so only about 10-15 get picked each year. Fewer still last the whole season in the big leagues.
# Teams must file their 40-man rosters by Nov. 20, and only those not at the full allotment of 40 may select players.
# Teams select in reverse order of that season's finish, with the American and National leagues alternating the No. 1 pick from year to year.