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Indians add five players to 40-man roster ahead of Rule 5 deadline

Which prospects are still unprotected for the Rule 5 draft?

MLB: Cleveland Indians-Media Day Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Monday was the deadline for Major League Baseball teams to make roster moves in advance of the Rule 5 draft, which will take place at the Winter Meetings of general managers in early December.

The Cleveland Indians had three spots available on their 40-man roster and they chose to add five players, in total, which means two had to be removed.

Three of the choices were no-brainers.

Shortstop Yu-Cheng Chang is the No. 4 ranked Indians prospect according to MLB pipeline. He blasted a career-best 24 home runs in his Double-A debut last season, although his batting average slipped.

Shortstop Willi Castro is just 20 years old and is MLBPipeline’s No. 9-ranked Tribe prospect. He’s coming off the best offensive season of young career at High-A Lynchburg. His batting average, walk rate and power spiked.

Right-handed pitcher Julian Merryweather is the Indians No. 12-ranked prospect on MLBPipeline’s list. He has a fastball in the upper 90’s and elite control. He’s the closest impact starting rotation arm the Tribe has in the minor leagues right now.

I’m also totally cool with adding Eric Stamets, a shortstop with a major league-ready glove who’s coming off a breakout offensive season which saw him more than double his career high in home runs with 15.

I’m not familiar with Rob Refsnyder, a player claimed from the Toronto Blue Jays. From what I can gather, he used to be a decent prospect but struggled at the highest level and he’ll be competing for the utility role in spring training.

Left-handed pitcher Kyle Crockett and righty Dylan Baker were the odd men out. Crockett never had great velocity out of the pen and hasn’t been able to capture the LOOGY role for the Tribe despite multiple opportunities. Baker has great stuff, but just hasn’t been able to remain healthy. Hopefully the the Indians are able to resign him because he showed some flashes out of the bullpen in Double-A last season before again getting hurt.

Other players who would have been Rule 5 eligible but have already been added to the 40-man roster include Bradley Zimmer, Greg Allen and catcher Eric Haase (sneakily added Dec. 6 after the Indians declined Boone Logan’s option).

The following players were unprotected before yesterday’s roster moves (so ignore Chang, Stamets, Castro and Merryweather):

Of these players, it’s most likely the Indians could lose Cuban reliever Leandro Linares, former first round supplemental pick Mike Papi (who’s coming off a solid rebound season), and former top 10 prospect and first round draft pick Rob Kaminsky, who missed almost all of 2017 due to injury.