Yesterday the Cleveland Indians were awarded an extra draft pick after the first round thanks to the Competitive Balance Lottery. The Indians landed the sixth and final competitive balance pick in the comp A round, and as a result will enjoy an increased draft pool amount and a pick right before the second round.
The exact pick number isn’t quite known yet, and likely won’t be until after compensation-eligible free agents sign, but the Indians will pick before the second round, and will follow (in order) the Florida Marlins, Colorado Rockies, St. Louis Cardinals, Milwaukee Brewers and San Diego Padres after the first round.
The Cincinnati Reds, Oakland Athletics, Seattle Mariners, Minnesota Twins, Baltimore Orioles and Arizona Diamondbacks (in order) were awarded picks after the second round.
The Competitive Balance Lottery is a newer establishment in MLB, and was adopted with the most recent Collective Bargaining Agreement in 2011. Last year the Indians were awarded a Comp B pick and used it on OF Mike Papi, who has impressed scouts recently. Teddy Cahill of MLB.com explains the lotto here:
Introduced when the current Collective Bargaining Agreement began in December 2011, the Competitive Balance Lottery gives teams that have either one of the 10 smallest markets or 10 smallest revenue pools one of six additional choices after each of the first and second rounds. Additionally, any other clubs that receive revenue-sharing funds are eligible for the supplemental second-round selections.
There were 15 teams eligible to receive a pick in this year’s lottery — the Twins and Mariners were eligible for a Round B selection only, by virtue of having received revenue sharing. The Pirates, Rays and Royals were not selected.
I’ve added the emphasis here because while this is good news for the Indians (despite any snarky comments regarding their drafting history), this lotto makes very little sense. Though it’s hard to argue that any of these markets, sans for maybe Baltimore (with its proximity to Washington, D.C.) are “big markets,” it’s a little odd to see three of the historically poorest teams (and thus the teams that need the draft – and its young, cheap and controllable talent – the most) get shut out here. No, MLB probably shouldn’t just hand out draft picks for being bad and poor (though that’s kinda what all drafts do in every league anyways), but it’s really hard to make a case that the Cardinals, who draw quite well and aren’t exactly poor, have any sort of need for these picks, let alone are deserving of a pick higher than 10 of the 12 eligible teams here (and keep in mind the Twins and Mariners weren’t eligible for a Comp A pick at all!).
It might seem like picking on the Cardinals for being successful, but that’s not the case here. The Cardinals are a fantastic organization, and have been for quite some time. They draft really well, even without the extra pick and draft pool money. They don’t need a pick like this, and even GMs in the league have spoken up over the issue, such as Chicago Cubs GM Theo Epstein:
“They do extremely well from a baseball standpoint and from a revenue standpoint,” the Chicago Cubs‘ president of baseball operations said Wednesday. “It’s probably the last organization in baseball that needs that kind of annual gift that they receive.”
One can claim I’m complaining over sour milk, and I might be, but MLB re-did its draft rules with the last CBA under the guise of helping small-market teams in the draft (to avoid having guys slip to big-markets due to issues with sign-ability and bonus demands), and in reality, it’s hard to make the case the fixes implemented by CBA have corrected this.
Still, getting one of these picks is helpful for the Indians. Cahill mentions a Comp A pick in 2014 added $1,781,400 to a team’s draft pool, and that type of money is quite valuable in the draft. In addition, competitive balance picks are the only picks allowed to be traded per MLB rules. This could be key as the Indians head into the trade deadline, as there could be teams eyeing up the pick to add to a draft pool. However, allowing these picks to be traded opens up another can of worms:
Brewers and Pirates have the biggest complaint of all with the Cards getting in the lottery. Direct competitor just got a tradeable asset.
— keithlaw (@keithlaw) July 24, 2014
Law’s concerns aren’t necessarily unfounded: in the two years of their existence, MLB.com’s Jim Callis notes Competitive Balance picks have been traded four times, including a fairly substantial deal between the Detroit Tigers and Marlins, where Detroit acquired INF Omar Infante and RHP Anibal Sanchez in return for CA Rob Brantly, LHP Brian Flynn and RHP Jacob Turner, and also the Marlins swapped their Lottery pick after round one for Detroit’s, which was after round two (Detroit used its pick on RHP Corey Knebel, who became the first Competitive Balance pick to make the major leagues and was traded last night for RHP Joakim Soria).
If the Indians keep the pick, they can hopefully get a promising young player like LHP Sean Manaea, who was selected by the Royals after they won the Competitive Balance Lotto in 2013. Regardless if they trade or keep the pick, it’s another intriguing asset for Cleveland to have in its pocket.