NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The notion of the Tigers finding help in the Rule 5 Draft sounds like an idea from seven years ago, when Chris Shelton was smacking home runs. It isn't something teams looking to win now often do.
It's something Tigers president/general manager Dave Dombrowski strongly hinted they might try Thursday morning.
"We are at 38 [players] on our [40-man] roster, and we are hopeful that we can draft," Dombrowski said. "We have a player or two in mind that, if we can draft, that we will. So you know if we do not draft, it's because a player has been drafted that we were seeking."
Dombrowski would not specify what type of player he's seeking, clearly fearing a team could trade up and grab those types. However, he has spent most of the week laying out Detroit's wants for left-handed relief, backup catching and a right-handed hitter for left field.
The setup of the Rule 5 Draft makes it tough for a contending team to keep a position player. The talent pool includes players not on 40-man rosters who have five seasons in an organization if they signed at age 18 or younger, or four seasons if they signed at age 19 or older. That player has to stay on the 25-man roster for a full season or be offered back to his old club.
It's much easier to keep a reliever, because a manager can choose his spots to use him in a game. MLB.com's Top 20 Rule 5 eligible prospects includes three left-handed pitchers -- 6-foot-6 power lefty reliever Jon Keck from the Royals, hard-throwing Rays Class A starter Braulio Lara and former Braves prospect Carlos Perez.