Tommy John has a surgery. Mario Mendoza has a line. Trea Turner may soon have his own rule.
When the Nationals, Padres and Rays agreed in December to the blockbuster trade sending, among others, Wil Myers to San Diego, Steven Souza Jr. to Tampa Bay and Joe Ross to Washington, it was widely reported that Turner, a shortstop prospect in the Padres system, was acquired by the Nationals as a "player to be named later."
Because Major League Rule 3(b)(6) prohibits the trading of a player for a full year after the signing of his original contract (Baseball America has more about the reasoning behind this rule, which involves Pete Incaviglia), Turner has remained in the San Diego organization.
The contract of a first-year player (i.e., a player who has not previously contracted with a Major or Minor League Club) selected in the Rule 4 Draft may not be assigned to another non-affiliated Major or Minor League Club until a period of one year has passed from the date of the player's original contract.
His position is a curious one -- would the Padres continue to develop him normally and give him playing time considering he isn't a part of their long-term plans? Might he be blocking a prospect that does have a potential future in San Diego? What if he were injured?
In the event, the Padres promoted Turner -- the 13th overall pick in last June's Draft -- straight to Double-A San Antonio this spring, where he's played a full slate and hit .282/.354/.408 with one homer and six RBIs in 18 games. Having signed with the Padres on June 13, 2014, he'll be eligible to be dealt on that date next month, which comes just before the six-month deadline during which any player to be named later must be determined.
On Friday, Fangraphs reported that Major League Baseball will change its rules, allowing first-year players to be traded following that season's World Series. From an email reportedly sent to all 30 MLB clubs:
Please be advised that the Commissioner's Office and the Players Association have agreed to amend the Major League Rules in advance of this year's Rule 4 Draft with respect to players-to-be-named-later ("PTBNLs") under Rule 12(e)(2), and the trading of draft picks under Rule 3(b)(6). ...commencing with players eligible for the 2015 Rule 4 Draft, (a) players selected in the Draft may be traded beginning on the day following the conclusion of the World Series, and (b) drafted players cannot be PTBNLs unless they otherwise could be traded pursuant to Rule 3(b)(6), as amended, at the time of the trade.
The rule change comes too late to affect Turner but should be in place for players selected in next month's Draft. Future players in his situation will be able to join their new clubs for Spring Training of the following season rather than stay in limbo for a full year.