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Pirates protect four in advance of Rule 5 draft

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Today is the deadline for MLB teams to add prospects to their roster in advance of the 2015 Rule 5 draft, and the Pirates have chosen to protect four players: starting pitcher Tyler Glasnow, first baseman Josh Bell, middle infielder Max Moroff, and outfielder Harold Ramirez. The addition of all four was expected, as WTM noted in his preview last month, since all four are among the team's top prospects.

These moves follow on the heels of the earlier promotions of Keon Broxton and Gift Ngoepe, increasing the total number of roster spots used to protect newly-eligible prospects to six. The 40-man roster currently stands at 38, leaving some flexibility to make other moves over the winter, and of course other players already on the roster could be removed if needed as well. Today's deadline is often a good time to poach interesting players on waivers (such as Josmil Pinto, claimed earlier by the Padres), so there may still be other new Pirates before the end of the evening.

The most surprising omission from the final roster is starting pitcher Clay Holmes, the team's ninth-round pick from the 2011 draft, who received a well-above-slot $1.2 million bonus to sign with the Pirates that year. Holmes has good size and solid stuff, and was productive down the stretch with the Bradenton Marauders, but he missed all of 2014 and a substantial portion of 2015 following Tommy John surgery. The Pirates may believe that his injury history will make other teams reluctant to gamble on him, and they have a certain amount of justification for doing so.

Other notable players left unprotected include oft-injured outfielder Barrett Barnes, utility infielder Dan Gamache, first baseman Jose Osuna, catcher Jin-De Jhang, and the formerly highly-touted Luis Heredia. The Rule 5 draft will take place on December 10th, near the conclusion of the winter meetings.