Last three AL pennant winners and the St. Louis Cardinals get competitive balance picks

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Competitive Balance draft picks are additional draft picks, occurring at the end of the first and second rounds of the Rule 4 draft each summer, given to clubs with the 10 lowest revenues and in the 10 smallest markets. They used to be determined by lottery, but now, with the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, they are determined via formula in which revenue and winning percentage are mashed up and an order is determined ranking the allegedly poor sisters of Major League Baseball.

I say allegedly because, with scant few exceptions, we have no idea what teams make and how bad off they are financially. We can guess, with some degree of certainty, to be fair, which teams are worse off than others, but we really don’t know. I also say it because since the Competitive Balance picks thing was put into place, there are always a couple of head-scratching inclusions in baseball’s draft pick charity program.

Via MLB.com, here is this year’s Competitive Balance draft order. Group A will pick at the end of the first round and before the second round. Group B will pick after the second round and before the third. These picks are in addition to whatever picks they will get based on their finish in the 2016 standings. The number is where the pick appears in the draft overall:

Round A
31. Tampa Bay Rays
32. Cincinnati Reds
33. Oakland Athletics
34. Milwaukee Brewers
35. Minnesota Twins
36. Miami Marlins

Round B
67. Arizona Diamondbacks
68. San Diego Padres
69. Colorado Rockies
70. Cleveland Indians
71. Kansas City Royals
72. Pittsburgh Pirates
73. Baltimore Orioles
74. St. Louis Cardinals

As has been mentioned many, many times over the years, it’s weird to see the Cardinals here. Yes, St. Louis is small, but the Cardinals are, without question, a team with large, regional appeal which makes a lot of money and which, obviously, has had tremendous success over the years. Theo Epstein once famously groused about it, saying that St. Louis is “probably the last organization in baseball that needs that kind of (an) annual gift.” He has a point.

It’s also odd to see both the Indians and the Royals there, given that they have combined to win the last three American League pennants, with the Royals winning the 2015 World Series. Not that I will not grant that both of them are at a financial disadvantage to many other teams in baseball.

But that’s the thing, right? The financial disadvantage? If that’s the issue being addressed here, it makes little sense to deal with it via extra draft picks because the draft is the one place where clubs aren’t at a tremendous disadvantage compared to others. Draft pick bonuses are slotted now, capping the amount any one team can pay a player, eliminating the old practice of draft picks signaling to poorer teams not to pick them. Beyond 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. If anything, these guys could use straight cash for free agents or operating expenses, not extra draft picks.

Oh well. It’s the system we have.

MLB, union resume blood testing after pandemic, lockout

Scott Taetsch-USA TODAY Sports
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NEW YORK – In the first acknowledgment that MLB and the players’ association resumed blood testing for human growth hormone, the organizations said none of the 1,027 samples taken during the 2022 season tested positive.

HGH testing stopped in 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Testing also was halted during the 99-day lockout that ended in mid-March, and there were supply chain issues due to COVID-19 and additional caution in testing due to coronavirus protocols.

The annual public report is issued by Thomas M. Martin, independent program administrator of MLB’s joint drug prevention and treatment program. In an announcement accompanying Thursday’s report, MLB and the union said test processing is moving form the INRS Laboratory in Quebec, Canada, to the UCLA Laboratory in California.

MLB tests for HGH using dried blood spot testing, which was a change that was agreed to during bargaining last winter. There were far fewer samples taken in 2022 compared to 2019, when there were 2,287 samples were collected – none positive.

Beyond HGH testing, 9,011 urine samples were collected in the year ending with the 2022 World Series, up from 8,436 in the previous year but down from 9,332 in 2019. And therapeutic use exemptions for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder dropped for the ninth straight year, with just 72 exemptions in 2022.

Overall, the league issued six suspensions in 2022 for performance-enhancing substances: three for Boldenone (outfielder/first baseman Danny Santana, pitcher Richard Rodriguez and infielder Jose Rondon, all free agents, for 80 games apiece); one each for Clomiphene (Milwaukee catcher Pedro Severino for 80 games), Clostebol (San Diego shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. for 80 games) and Stanozolol (Milwaukee pitcher J.C. Mejia for 80 games).

There was an additional positive test for the banned stimulant Clobenzorex. A first positive test for a banned stimulant results in follow-up testing with no suspension.