Diamondbacks @ Winter Meetings, Day 4

A lot of not quite official deals were signed yesterday - we've already covered the D-backs acquisitions of Wil Nieves and Eric Chavez, but those were not the only action. Let's take a look at the others, and quickly run the rule over the Rule 5 draft, which takes place on the last day.

Yes, you did read the news report right. Former D-back Randy Choate got himself the longest deal of the day, picking up a three-year contract estimated at $7.5 million from the St. Louis Cardinals. He was barely mediocre in his time with Arizona, giving us a 4.89 ERA from 2004 through 2007, but after missing the majors entirely the following season, through a combination of injury and getting released, he has bounced back, From 2009 to date, he has an ERA of 3.30, which is more than respectable. Still, rather the Cardinals than us, I imagine. Infielder Jeff Keppinger also get a three-year deal from the White Sox.

Joe Blanton got the biggest cash haul, signing a two-year contract with the Los Angeles Angels that should net 15 million. The Angels also picked up a reliever in Sean Burnett, also for 2013 + 2014, at a cost of around $8 million. Still, this year's winter meeting is shaping up to be considerably cheaper for Anaheim than last year, where they announced the signings of Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson on the final day., commitments which totaled close to one-third of a billion dollars. Among lesser deals, the Rockies re-signed Jeff Francis to pitch in Coors - well, I guess someone had to. Pitch in Coors, not sign Francis, I mean. Jason Bay looks to be going to Seattle, and Nate Schierholz to the Cubs.

Thursday is usually a short day, with everyone scurrying off to catch their flights home, but there will be one important order of business: the Rule 5 draft. A quick primer may be in order. Players are eligible to be picked by another team if they are not on their current franchise's 40-man roster and this is their fourth or fifth Rule 5 draft, depending on their age. It's designed to stop teams from stockpiling prospcts that others would be happy to have on their major-league rosters. Like the regular draft, order of selection is based on the previous year's results, with the worst team getting to go first.

Teams don't have to pick someone, but if they do, the cost is only $50,000. The kicker is, the gaining team must keep them on the active 25-man roster (or DL) for the entire year. If they can't, then they must offer the player back to his original team for half the amount paid. Sometimes, as we did with catcher James Skelton, the two teams will work out a trade, that allows the Rule 5 draftee to stay with his new team, in exchange for another prospect or cash considerations.

Most Rule 5 picks don't amount to much, but those who have been selected this way include Roberto Clemente, Johan Santana, Josh Hamilton and, of course, Dan Uggla, whom we lost to the Marlins. However, a rule change added an extra year of protection in 2006, and this has allowed teams to get a better handle on evaluating their prospects. Baseball America says "the draft has mattered less and less each year" since the change, though there are still worthwhile players to be had - Arizona picked up left-handed reliever Joe Paterson in 2010, and he was an integral part of their NL West title run the following year.

The Diamondbacks have space on their 40-man roster, so would be able to select someone if they wanted. The draft starts at 8am Arizona time, and Minor League Ball had more information on five players left unprotected by their teams who could end up moving. Of course, there is also the chance that the Diamondbacks might lose someone, though there doesn't appear to be anyone who might come back to bite us in an Uggla-like fashion. One name that has been mentioned as a possible pick is former Diamondback Marc Krauss: now an Astro, following the Chris Johnson trade, he was left off the Houston 40-man roster. But will anyone bite?

We'll update this thread with any D-backs related moves, and also if there are any updates on the trade front. Stay tuned...

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