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Rule 5 Draft Could Sweeten the Lindstrom Trade for Marlins

If reports are true that the "player to be named later" in the Matt Lindstrom deal is Houston's pick in the Rule 5 draft this morning, Wednesday's trade might not look as baffling ("That's all they got?!") as it does at the moment for the Marlins.

   While the only named players the Marlins received in the trade were a couple of low-level minor leaguers, the club could end up with a bonafide big-leaguer if they've done their homework and are able to locate the proverbial hidden gem. That's because Houston holds the eighth overall pick in this overstock draft, which has yielded such finds in the past as Dan Uggla, Johan Santana and Shane Victorino.

   The Marlins, who have one open spot available on their 40-man roster, own the 22nd pick. Thus, they effectively gain 14 spots as the result of Wednesday's trade. Basically, the Marlins will be choosing from a list of all eligible players not protected on 40-man rosters. But whichever player they choose (actually, they'll tell the Astros who to pick for them) must remain on their active major league roster throughout the coming season. Otherwise, he must be returned to his original club, along with $25,000.

    The Marlins obtained Uggla through the Rule 5 draft in 2005. But they've also fired a few blanks: lhp Michael Megrew (also selected in '05), rhp Carlos Guevara (2007), and lhp Zach Kroenke (last year). The Marlins ended up returning each of those three players to their former clubs. Interestingly, Kroenke -- who is in the Yankees system -- is available again this year.

    Stay tuned. All the fun begins at 9 a.m.