In recent days, there has been a fair amount of fan concern expressed over the St. Louis Cardinals having left Johnson City shortstop Allen Cordoba unprotected in the Rule 5 Draft, from where the Appalachian League batting champion was selected in the Major League phase by the San Diego Padres.
Some think the Friars will hide Cordoba on their 25-man roster all season, no matter how overmatched he may be at the Major League level. Had MLB gone ahead with the proposed expansion of rosters to 26, it would have greatly aided this possible scenario, but it was a casualty of the CBA negotiations.
Those people also point to former Cardinals high-A starter Luis Perdomo, who was a Rule 5 pick one year ago. The right-hander not only stuck with San Diego for the entire 2016 season, he ended up throwing almost 150 innings as a starting pitcher.
However, not everyone sees it that way.
Others point to the Padres’ three Rule 5 additions last week, assuming there is no way that the club can deal with keeping all of them. While San Diego is clearly in rebuilding mode, harboring three not-ready-for-prime-time players for the 162-game schedule does seem a stretch.
This is supported by research from Baseball America, which indicated that only three times in the last decade did as many two Rule 5 picks stay with their new club all season. The most recent example of three selections sticking for an entire season was back in 2003.
Where Cordoba would stack up against San Diego’s other two new Rule 5 additions in terms of potential staying power is anyone’s guess, however.
To try to answer the question for myself of what San Diego might do with Cordoba, I went back into their recent history for clues. I learned something very interesting.
This approach by the Padres to stockpile multiple Rule 5 picks is not new. In fact, just one year ago, San Diego carried two Rule 5 picks.
They ended up keeping both all year – though not at the MLB level. In addition to Perdomo, the other was a position player, Jabari Blash. Unlike Perdomo, the Padres gave up on Blash by mid-May. Despite having first reached Triple-A in 2014, the outfielder was clearly not ready for the bigs, batting just .169 as a Padre.
San Diego placed him on waivers, where he went unclaimed by the other MLB clubs. However, rather than returning to his prior organization, Seattle, the Mariners immediately traded Blash back to San Diego for a player-to-be-named-later or cash. Since Blash had already cleared waivers, the Padres were then free to place him wherever they wanted in their system – without restriction.
I could see a similar route ahead for Cordoba – but with one key difference.
Even if he makes the Padres’ 25-man roster out of camp, at some point, his inexperience could lead to the team giving up on him. While I could see Cordoba clearing waivers, that would be where the similarities end.
My guess is that the Cardinals would welcome
Perdomo’s Cordoba’a return with open arms and not trade him back to the Padres, unlike what the Mariners did with Blash in 2016.
At that point, a slightly older, wiser and more experienced Cordoba could resume his Cardinals minor league development, probably in Class-A initially, and those fans concerned about the loss of his services could move on to fretting about other matters.
I consider this scenario more likely than the 21-year-old lasting an entire season in San Diego.
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