NEW YORK -- Former first-round Draft pick Brandon Nimmo highlighted four additions to the Mets' 40-man roster Friday, allowing the team to protect those players from next month's Rule 5 Draft. The Mets added Nimmo as well as right-handers Seth Lugo, Jeff Walters and Robert Gsellman before Friday's 8 p.m. ET deadline.
MLB requires teams to add players who signed at age 18 or younger to 40-man rosters within five professional seasons, or those who signed at 19 or older within four seasons, or they become eligible for other organizations to draft through the Rule 5 process. Clubs pay $50,000 to select a player in the Major League phase of the Rule 5 Draft, slated for Dec. 10. If that player doesn't stay on the 25-man roster for the full season, he must be offered back to his former team for $25,000.
Nimmo, the Mets' No. 2 prospect, was an obvious add to the 40-man roster. He hit .269 with five home runs and had a .362 on-base percentage during a 2015 split among Triple-A Las Vegas, Double-A Binghamton and Class A Advanced St. Lucie. The 13th overall pick in the 2011 MLB Draft, Nimmo was an Eastern League All-Star and a participant in the Sirius XM Futures Game in Cincinnati.
Gsellman, the Mets' No. 16 prospect, finished 13-7 with a 2.89 ERA in 24 starts split between Binghamton and St. Lucie. He was the organization's Sterling Pitcher of the Year. Lugo, the club's No. 27 prospect, burst onto the scene this summer with a 3.84 ERA in 24 starts between Vegas and Binghamton. Walters, an unranked reliever, posted a 2.45 ERA over three levels upon returning from Tommy John surgery in June.
For most teams, adding players to the Rule 5 Draft is a risk-reward proposition. It protects those players, but also decreases roster flexibility. So the Mets were forced to weigh the benefits of adding prospects against the risk of losing them in the Rule 5 Draft.
The most notable player the Mets declined to protect was No. 12 prospect Wuilmer Becerra, an outfielder who was part of the R.A. Dickey trade in 2012. Becerra, who just turned 21, hit .290 with nine home runs in 487 plate appearances at Class A Savannah last season. But he has yet to appear even at high Class A ball, making him a long shot to stick with a Major League club all next season.
Other notable players left unprotected include No. 19 prospect Matt Bowman, a starter who posted a 5.53 ERA at Las Vegas this season; No. 26 prospect T.J. Rivera, a shortstop who hit .306 in 54 games at Vegas; and No. 28 prospect Jayce Boyd, a first baseman who hit .254 in 56 games at Vegas. The Mets' 40-man roster stands at 39.