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:

source:

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.

Evan Longoria: ‘I just kind of feel sorry for the Rays fan base’

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The Rays were busy over the weekend, trading starter Jake Odorizzi to the Twins, designating All-Star outfielder Corey Dickerson for assignment, and then picking up C.J. Cron in a deal with the Angels. The Rays saved about $4 million — Odorizzi’s $6.3 million less Cron’s $2.3 million salary — and picked up a prospect. They’re still on the hook for Dickerson’s $5.95 million salary until they can find a trade partner, which seems likely.

Those are some head-scratching moves if you’re a Rays fan or a member of the Rays. Dickerson hit .282/.325/.490 with 27 home runs, 62 RBI, and 84 runs scored in 629 plate appearances last season, part of which resulted in his first trip to the All-Star Game. Designating him for assignment is strictly a financial move, assuming he can be traded. The Rays are currently operating with a payroll below $70 million. This comes just a week and a half after Rays ownership proposed the public footing most of the bill for the club’s new stadium. And the Rays had traded third baseman Evan Longoria — then the face of the franchise — to the Giants earlier this offseason.

Longoria expressed sympathy for Rays fans for having to put up with this. Via Andrew Baggarly, Longoria said of the curious Dickerson move, “I just kind of feel sorry for the Rays fan base. … I’m not going to take too many shots but it’s pretty obvious that guy is a valuable player and didn’t deserve to be DFAd. Corey was our best player last year.”

Longoria isn’t quite on the money there. By WAR, Dickerson ranked fifth among position players on the team, according to Baseball Reference. FanGraphs is also in agreement. Still, it’s indisputable that Dickerson, who turns 29 years old this May, more than pulled his weight. The Rays do not have a surfeit of starting outfielders, so it wasn’t like they were making room for other capable players. Mallex Smith, who put up a .684 OPS in 282 PA last year, is slated to start in left field at the moment. Designating Dickerson for assignment, as well as trading Longoria and Odorizzi, were simply cost-cutting decisions.

The Rays’ M.O. has been part of the problem leading to the current stagnant free agent market (sans Eric Hosmer‘s eight-year deal on Saturday). Teams like the Rays, Phillies, Reds, and Tigers have been explicitly putting out non-competitive teams in order to facilitate a rebuilding process. Longoria is right to express sympathy for Rays fans, who see their favorite team worsening a roster that went 80-82 last year. The Rays haven’t finished at .500 or above since 2013 and doesn’t figure to halt the streak this year.