Wednesday, Major League Baseball will hold a lottery -- the Competitive Balance Lottery, to use the official term -- that will in turn determine the owners of "extra" draft picks in next year's amateur (Rule 4) draft.
This lottery is the first of its kind, in baseball anyway. As mandated in the new Collective Bargaining Agreement ... wait, let's turn to the official channels for a moment:
The lottery, scheduled to take place Wednesday at 1:30 p.m. ET in New York, is a mechanism designed to help teams perceived to need the most assistance by awarding extra Draft picks to some of them. The 10 smallest-market teams and 10 lowest-revenue teams will have the chance to win one of six extra selections in the 2013 First-Year Player Draft.
Those half-dozen picks will be made at the conclusion of the first round, following the compensation selections. Because there is obvious crossover between those two groups, there are 13 teams entered into the first-round lottery: the D-backs, Orioles, Indians, Royals, A's, Pirates, Padres, Rays, Reds, Rockies, Marlins, Brewers and Cardinals. The odds of winning a Draft pick will be based on each team's winning percentage in the previous season.
But wait, there's more! After the second round of the draft, there will another half-dozen picks, determined by a second lottery that will include only the seven teams that didn't gain a pick in the first lottery. Oh, plus any team that didn't qualify for the first lottery but did receive revenue-sharing money in the previous season; as it happens, that list includes just one team: the Tigers.
When this new lottery was first unveiled, our Grant Brisbee called it insane and hilarious, largely because some really good teams are eligible to gain these extra draft picks. The Cardinals won the World Series! The Brewers and Rays were in the playoffs!
But hasn't it always been said that even when low-revenue and/or small-market franchises do win, they can't maintain their success in the long term because they'll simply be priced out of the talent market?
And what do you know: Both the Brewers and the Rays have struggled this season. I think it's safe to say that among those 13 teams, only the Cardinals now seem to have a decent shot at qualifying for the postseason both last year and this year. Among those 13 teams, only the Cardinals, Reds, and Pirates have good shots at making it this year.
It seems to me perfectly appropriate to throw a bone to the low-revenue and small-market clubs, even if they've been successful. It's also worth noting that with odds of winning a draft pick tied to winning percentage in the previous season, the World Series-winning Cardinals are not likely to get an extra draft pick at all.
My only real problem with this lottery is that it doesn't go far enough. I wish more was being done for the small-market/low-revenue franchises. Still, this is something. And it's also interesting; Praise Be Commissioner Bud for giving us something to write about!
Oh, and there's one more wrinkle. Unlike conventional draft picks, these can be traded! From tomorrow through the end of this season, these Competitive Balance Draft picks can be traded, just like they were players. Never in the history of baseball's amateur draft have teams been able to trade picks. Now they can.
The few teams that have them, anyway. Which might make the trade deadline just a bit more interesting.
Wednesday at 2:45 p.m. Eastern, the MLB Network will reveal the lottery winners and the order of their picks. Should be a hoot, and of course we'll have all the details here at Baseball Nation. Insane or not.