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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.