With all the fuss over the possibility of the Wild Cards for both the American and National Leagues being won or lost in the next few days, it’s easy to forget that there’s a race of a different sort underway in the middle of the MLB table.

As I’m sure we’re all aware by now, the bottom fifteen teams in the regular season standings have their first round draft pick protected in next year’s draft. In other words, a team that finishes the season sixteenth or worse in winning percentage is allowed to sign a Type A free agent without giving up their top fifteen overall pick. Instead, the team loses a second round draft pick.

Here is a list of the teams for whom the outcomes of the last two or three games of the season could influence their readiness to spend in the free agent market this off season:

  • 13. Los Angeles Dodgers 81-78
  • 14. Toronto Blue Jays 80-80
  • 14. Cleveland Indians 80-80
  • 16. Washington Nationals 79-80
  • 17. Cincinnati Reds 78-82
  • 17. Chicago White Sox 78-82
  • 19. New York Mets 76-84

I know it doesn’t seem right, and in no way would any of these teams ever lose on purpose, but a couple of timely losses at the end of the season could help justify a free agent expenditure over the winter that ultimately improves the team much more than having a .500 record in the previous season or having to give up a pick in the 16-30 range compared to the 46-60 range.

Unless you’re cheering for the Dodgers, of course. They’re not going to sign any free agents anyway.

Comments (9)

  1. I’ve been checking this part of the standings on almost a daily basis for the past couple of weeks. Think we have a shot. Go Sox!

  2. It seems highly unlikely to me that the Jays would sign a type A free agent regardless of whether the first round pick is proctected or not. I really don’t think anything is at stake here.

  3. How about this for out of the box thinking, if we have the our first rounder pick protected, maybe we sign a type A free agent, but maybe we don’t sign him for our team. Perhaps the first sign and trade in the MLB by AA? Just a thought. I believe there was talk of it when Scutaro was leaving but circumstances were obviously different then.

    • I really like the feel of that idea. In AA really looking for creative ways to improve the team, and in the possible manipulation of another team’s desire to retain it’s pick. My question however, is what kind of return are we going to get out of a team instead of them giving up their 16-30 pick?

    • Interesting idea but the Jays still lose a pick in that scenario. Just because your first round pick is protected doesn’t mean you don’t still have to give up compensation. They would lose a second round pick or later depending on the ranking of any other types A free agents they sign.

  4. With one day left on the schedule, the Jays still have a shot. Essentially, if they win, then they’re in 14th. Even if they’re tied with Cleveland, we still are ahead, since we were ahead last year. However, if we lose, then we’re tied with the White Sox for 14th, and they had a better record than us last year.

    So if we win, we lose. If we lose, we win.

  5. Let’s Go WhiteSox!

  6. You’d have to assume the value coming back in something like that would have to be what the team judges to be better than a third tier pick in the 46-60 range. Not to mention this is considered to be a weaker draft and I’m still of the belief that a known player that’s played some pro ball is better than an unknown player. The only hole being the team who would be trading for the type A, would not want to give up their 1st pick for the player, but still be willing to give up some value for him. But with AA, you’d have to guess he would target undervalued player(s) in this scenario maybe the equivalent of a Travis Snider, player on the cusp of arbitration with 0-1 options left but still some star potential.

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