Jacob Wilson (Photo by Michael Zagaris/Oakland Athletics/Getty Images)
A convincing argument can be made that the A’s, Pirates and Tigers could win in this year’s draft lottery by losing out.
After posting the worst record in the majors in 2023, the A’s are one of three teams with the best odds to land the No. 1 pick in this week’s draft lottery. The A’s have an 18.3% chance of getting the No. 1 pick, the same odds as the Royals and Rockies. The Pirates have a 3.0% chance of the first pick, while the Tigers have a tiny 1.6% chance of winning the No. 1 pick.
While admittedly much can change between now and draft day, the 2024 MLB draft is currently viewed as one of the thinnest at the top in years.
And that’s why losing could be winning, especially if a team like the A’s falls in the draft order like they did last year.
Under the collective bargaining agreement’s rules, no revenue sharing paying team can receive a lottery pick in back-to-back drafts. That has ensured that the highest the Nationals can pick this year is 10th overall after they landed the No. 2 pick last year.
But the CBA also specifies that revenue sharing recipients cannot have three lottery picks in a row. The A’s, Pirates and Tigers all landed top six picks last year. The Pirates landed the No. 1 pick; the Tigers picked third.
Luck was not on Oakland’s side, as the A’s landed the sixth and final lottery pick even though they were one of three teams with the best odds in the lottery. Under the pre-lottery system, the A’s would have picked second.
Oakland selected shortstop Jacob Wilson with the sixth pick. While he’s a solid prospect, the A’s had the misfortune of picking sixth in a stacked draft that was viewed as having five players in the top tier.
If something like that happened again, the A’s could find themselves locked out of the draft lottery in 2025, which is currently viewed as being a better draft class than this year.
The same would be true for the Pirates or Tigers if they land a top six pick this year.
In the case of the Tigers and possibly the Pirates, there’s some hope that they could make that a moot point by landing a spot in the 2024 playoffs. The draft lottery is only open to non-playoff teams. In the case of the soon-to-move A’s, that seems highly unlikely.
Now there’s a value to picking sooner rather than later, and…