The Indians today were awarded a pick in the brand-new MLB Competitive Balance Lottery. The Lottery is part of the new CBA, and by rule the 10 teams with the lowest revenue and the 10 teams in the smallest MLB markets are entered for a chance to win one of 12 picks in next year's Rule 4 draft. The Indians, Royals, A's, Pirates, Padres, Rays, Reds, Rockies, Marlins, Brewers, Orioles, Diamondbacks and Cardinals were entered into the lottery, which MLB tells us is weighted towards teams' records in the previous season. I say "MLB tells us" because I've yet to see a really detailed description of how this lottery actually works.
So the first part of the lottery is held to divvy out six picks at the conclusion of the first round of the draft. Basically, the new "sandwich picks." After the first part of the lottery is conducted, any remaning teams who are given reveune sharing $$$ are added into the pool, and there's another lottery to determine who gets six picks after the end of the 2nd round of the draft. This year, only the Detroit Tigers were added into that pool. Wait...the Tigers are in this? The team with the $133 million opening day payroll in 2012? They get revenue sharing monies? I'm brimming with questions right now, but I digress.
After all was said and done, here's how it shook out; KC ($64 million payroll), Pittsburgh ($52 million), Arizona ($75 million), Baltimore ($84 million), Cincy ($88 million) and Miami ($102 million) were awarded the six picks after the first round. San Diego ($56 million), Cleveland ($65 million), Colorado ($81 million), Oakland ($53 million), Milwaukee ($98 million) and Detroit got the 2nd round picks. Tampa Bay ($63 million) and the Cardinals ($112 million) were the two organizations in the lottery who failed to recieve a pick.
The interesting thing about these picks is, for the first time in MLB history, they are eligible to be traded. That's right, MLB is slowly catching up to the fact that teams should be able to trade their own draft picks in return for other assets. The picks are only allowed to be dealt between now and July 31, or between opening day next year and the June Rule 4 draft. None of the picks will be involved in winter meetings deals. Still, this is a step in the right direction. These are pretty valuable assets, worth at least a 2nd-tier prospect, and they will give teams an opportunity to come together on a deal that might not have otherwise taken place.
It remains to be seen just how much the CBA really distributes talent to lower-revenue and small-market teams. We could look back on 2012 as a turning point in the little guys vs big guys world of professional baseball, the only major sport without a salary cap. Something tells me that while this will help a little, it's really just a drop in the bucket when it comes to leveling the playing field between the Boston/NY types and the Clevelands of the baseball world.
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