Bumped for the Rule 5 draft at noon. I'll (hopefully) be on a plane when this goes down, but you can follow the draft here and here and in the comments. You may want to check out the post below this one, which is about an ESPN report that the Pirates are on the verge of signing Ramon Vazquez to a two-year contract.
The Pirates' trade of Ronny Paulino yesterday may turn out to be the biggest move they make in the Winter Meetings, but they'll almost certainly select at least one player in the major league portion of the Rule 5 draft today, and several players in the minor league portion.
The Post Gazette lists Diamondbacks pitcher Matt Torra and Angels infielder Hainley Statia as potential targets in the major league portion. Statia has, as far as I can tell, absolutely no business being on a major league roster. Torra could be selected merely because he's capable of starting, not because he's been especially good at it. A couple weeks ago, I endorsed the selection of Rays reliever Eduardo Morlan, but I was hardly the first blogger to do so, and Morlan could well be gone by the time the Pirates pick. Anyway, the Rule 5 draft is so unpredictable that if none of these three players are selected, I wouldn't be shocked.
Oh, and there's a huge trade: The Mets get J.J. Putz, outfielder Jeremy Reed and reliever Sean Green for Aaron Heilman, Endy Chavez, Jason Vargas, Joe Smith and three minor leaguers: Mike Carp, Mikael Cleto and Ezequiel Carrera. The Indians get Smith and infielder Luis Valbuena and the Mariners get everybody else; also, the Indians send Franklin Guiterrez to the M's. There's almost too much here to process, but I like this for the Mariners, who upgrade their outfield defense dramatically while grabbing two of the Mets' small handful of prospects in Carp and Cleto. Putz had a worse-than-usual season in 2008, battling elbow problems; he's still a good reliever, but the Mets look like they're giving up quite a bit here.
Also, the Tigers did trade Matt Joyce, but they dealt him to Tampa for Edwin Jackson. Jackson still has some upside, but his apparent improvement in 2008 was mostly the product of the Rays' excellent defense; I like this move for Tampa.
UPD ATE: The P-G reports that the Bucs could lose Kyle Bloom, which would be a drag. Bloom is about a C+ grade prospect, but he's one of only a couple Bucs starting pitching prospects who are anywhere near the majors, and he's been pitching well for several months now. Short of some team making a completely random pick (which Bloom wouldn't be), there's really no excuse for a team like the Pirates, with a subpar bunch of players at the major league level and a relatively shallow farm system, losing a player in the Rule 5 draft. It's not a huge deal, and the Bucs could easily get Bloom back in March if he's selected, but I don't understand why he wasn't protected.
UPDATE II: The Pirates have taken Donald Veal, a former top starting pitching prospect from the Cubs. He's fallen on hard times, but he's a smart guy and he has decent stuff, so hopefully he'll be able to adjust as a reliever. That's off the top of my head; I'll do more research later. And now I really have to board my plane.