The poor, downtrodden Cardinals receive a bonus pick in next year’s draft thanks to the Competitive Balance Lottery

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The Competitive Balance Lottery gives clubs with the 10 lowest revenues and in the 10 smallest markets the opportunity to obtain additional draft picks through a lottery. The picks are made after some weighting is applied based on winning percentage (i.e. the best teams in the lottery have lower chances of being drawn) and six are given additional draft picks immediately following the first round of next year’s draft. Sort of like the old sandwich picks. The remaining teams are then drawn for six more slots following the second.

Today that lottery was held and here are the winners:

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Congratulations to the Cardinals for bucking the odds. Yes, St. Louis is one of baseball’s smallest markets, but the Cardinals also happened to be the reigning N.L. pennant winners, so they had the worst odds of being picked.

An odd system, though. One that assumes the smallest market or smallest revenue teams are those in most need of extra help in the draft. That’s clearly not the case. Especially when you consider that the draft represents a very low percentage of a team’s overall outlay for talent and thus is one place where low revenue/small market teams are least disadvantaged compared to their bigger richer peers.

Maybe more annoying about this, though, is that it’s a lottery in the first place. Major League Baseball has a habit of turning things that should be straightforward — overturning calls; aiding poor teams — into contests and games. A lot of calls are being missed and replay is needed? Let’s add strategy and game show rules to the process! Competitive balance is an issue? Let’s address it through a lottery! The All-Star Game is less competitive? Let’s turn it into a contest to decide home field advantage in the World Series!

If you actually think something is a problem, you solve it in a straightforward manner. If you merely wish to shut up complainers, you condescend with games. That’s what this is.

The Astros’ pursuit of Sonny Gray is “heating up”

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Jon Morosi of MLB Networks reports that talks are “heating up” between the Astros and Athletics on a Sonny Gray trade. Gray, obviously, would represent a big upgrade for the Astros’ rotation. He has a 3.66 ERA and has struck out 85 batters while walking 28 in 91 innings.

Morosi adds that Gray is not the only option for the Astros, as they are also talking to the Tigers about a potential acquisition of Justin Verlander and Justin Wilson. That would obviously be a much tougher deal to negotiate given Verlander’s 10/5 rights giving him veto power over any trade, not to mention the massive amount of money he’s still owed on his contract.

Also: I’m pretty sure that it’s in the MLB rules that any trade between the Tigers and the Astros has to involve Brad Ausmus, C.J. Nitkowski and Jose Lima, and that’s not possible given their current occupations and/or their deaths in 2010.

Marlins trade David Phelps to the Mariners for four prospects

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The Miami Marlins have sent reliever David Phelps to the Seattle Mariners in exchange for four prospects. MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand and Ken Rosenthal had rumors of the deal first, Jon Morosi, Jeff Passan and Jon Heyman (among others) all reported the trade at virtually the same time.

Phelps, 30, had a fantastic 2016 season, posting a 2.28 ERA in 64 games while striking out 11.8 batters per nine innings. He’s not been as strong this year, but he’s still been a solid setup man, posting a 3.45 ERA in 44 games while striking out 51 batters and walking 21 in 47 innings. He throws in the mid-90s and induces grounders. The Mariners could probably use rotation help more than bullpen help, but solid innings are solid innings at one point and improving your pen takes some of the pressure off of your rotation. Phelps will help Seattle with that. He’s under team control for next year too, so this is more than a rental.

The top prospect in the deal is Brayan Hernandez, a 19 year-old outfielder from Venezuela, currently playing in low-A ball. Also in the deal: righty Brandon Miller, righty Pablo Lopez and righty Lucas Schiraldi who, yes, is the son of ex-big leaguer Calvin Schiraldi. None of these guys are blue chippers, but you never know what’ll happen. It’s a volume return for the Fish.

We’ve already seen some big bullpen names move, including David Robertson, Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson. Among others who could be moved:  A.J. Ramos (Marlins); Justin Wilson (Tigers); Addison Reed (Mets); Jerry Blevins (Mets); Brad Hand (Padres); Tony Watson (Pirates); Juan Nicasio (Pirates); Brad Brach (Orioles); Drew Storen (Reds); and Raisel Iglesias (Reds).