The recently agreed upon CBA between MLB and the MLBPA features some very interesting rule changes.
While some of those rule changes are getting a fair amount of attention, others are not.
One change that seems to be flying under the radar is the introduction of a draft lottery.
The new CBA makes it so that the top six picks of the annual MLB Draft will be determined via lottery, which is a huge change relative to the system that baseball fans are used to.
“Beginning in 2023, the first six choices will be determined by lottery rather than by the reverse order of the previous year’s standings,” Jim Callis of MLB.com explained. “The teams with the three worst records from the previous season will have the best chance (16.5 percent each) to get the No. 1 overall pick via the lottery, which will include all 18 non-postseason clubs. The other teams will have declining percentages in reverse order of their records, down to 0.23 percent for the non-playoff club with the highest winning percentage.”
The draft lottery isn’t a new concept to the sports world, as multiple other professional sports leagues use the method.
MLB is the newest league to adopt it, and there are several reasons why fans should be excited about that.
Here are a couple of them.
2. New Life For The Draft Process
It’s no secret that the MLB Draft doesn’t get nearly as much attention as drafts in other sports do.
There are several reasons for that, with the biggest one perhaps being that it typically takes baseball prospects several years to reach the highest level after being drafted.
Nobody cares about the MLB Draft and that makes me sad.
— Jessica Kleinschmidt (@KleinschmidtJD) June 5, 2014
In other sports, a top draft pick often makes an immediate impact for the team they’re selected by, but that’s essentially never the case in baseball.
For that reason, and a few others, the MLB draft gets overlooked by many.
Adding the lottery to the MLB draft process won’t fix everything as it pertains to how much attention the draft gets, but it will certainly add to the excitement factor.
In other sports, draft lotteries are always highly anticipated events.
A lottery is a suspenseful and exciting way to determine the draft order, and it should bring a fair amount of buzz to the MLB draft.
1. Less Incentive To Tank
Of course, the top reason here is also the most obvious.
The primary purpose of any draft lottery is to prevent teams from tanking.
The unfortunate reality of professional sports is that some teams simply don’t try to field competitive squads some years.
Before any season begins, rebuilding organizations usually know that they’re not going to be in the postseason mix.
Generally, these teams quickly fall behind in the standings once the season starts, and by the time the trade deadline arrives, it’s clear that these clubs have no hope for a playoff push.
By this point, these struggling teams tend to trade away key players, making their outlooks for the remainder of the season even dimmer.
Once the deadline fire sales are complete, there’s no reason for these organizations to try to win ballgames.
In order words, the tank is on, as is the quest to secure a high draft pick.
But with the lottery coming into play, tanking for a high pick is going to become a little less appealing than it has been for many years.
The MLB draft lottery rules haven’t really been talked about all that much, but the more I think about it, the more I think it’s a really big deal.
Doing even a medium term tank job has become a lot harder. And even rebuilding teams are going to be incentivized to be decent.
— Adam J. Morris (@lonestarball) March 19, 2022
A random process determining the top six picks of the draft will disincentive teams from racing for the worst record in the league, which helps protect the integrity of the sport.