Today teams have to set their 40 man roster AND their minor league reserve lists in preparation for December's Rule 5 draft. Remember, you can't add anyone to your roster except through trades, until after the Rule 5 draft if you don't do so by today. At the same time, if you want to draft someone in the major league portion of the Rule 5 draft, you have to have an open spot on your roster although teams have DFA'd players as late as the morning of the draft to clear a spot.
So, what are the Indians going to do? I have posted earlier on the Rule 5 draft but that was only IF guys were not placed on the roster by today.
The Indians currently have 38 guys on their roster. They have spots for adding two guys without having to DFA, outright or trade anyone.
Who might be reasonable to protect?
Looking through the list of guys eligible for the Rule 5 (if not rostered) here are the names I come up with who are candidates to be added to the roster:
Anyone sent to the lifeboats to clear space?
Here is a list of guys who MIGHT be DFA'd tor outrighted oday (but probably not for most of them as they are, at least, roster filler for a later trade or free agent signing or two).
The Indians will add both Scott Barnes and Elvis Araujo to their roster. The Indians will add a 3rd player, TJ McFarland, by outrighting Corey Kluber to the minors.
Reasoning: You can't expose your top left-handed pitching prospect and one of your top 10 (maybe top 5) overall prospects to the Rule 5 draft just because he is still in the low minors. Remember that was tried with Joakim Soria and look how that turned out! Unfortunately, even though he may be exposed to being DFA'd before he gets to the majors as he may use up all your options with him, you have to take this gamble.
Barnes is kind of a no-brainer who I think may have gotten a shot last September if he hadn't injured his knee. He is a better pitching prospect, in my opnion, than Corey Kluber.
TJ McFarland is, to me, a better pitching prospect than Kluber. While I would like to DFA Valbuena, I think they still keep Kluber's rights if they DFA him. I think Valbuena may become a FA if he is DFA'd and not traded and clears waivers.
Why not roster the other guys who are eligible?
Roberto Perez - Too many questions about his bat. AFL helped this year but not enough, IMHO
Bryce Stowell - Yes he has thrown 100 mph. But last year was so bad for him it is worth the risk not to protect him
Rob Bryson: - Could be really painful if lost this guy (CC trade) and he becomes something. Coming off an injury so maybe teams will shy away. Worth the risk
Paolo Espino - The typical short righthander, he gets no respect and so is worth the gamble of not protecting him. The most likely of the non-protected list to see time in the majors next year, however.
Beau Mills does not fit the Rule 5 draftee profile and so is a good gambles NOT to protect. Hector Ambriz may be selected in the Rule 5 but can't be put on the 40 man as he is too far down the RH reliever depth chart to warrant it.
Carlos Moncrief has an iintriguing combination of speed, power and throwing arm strength. He is so far down in the minors, however, and didn't hit much at low A, he is probably safe.