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New CBA could mean the Diamondbacks end up with the first pick in 2022 MLB Draft

Derek Montilla Avatar
December 8, 2021

The expiration of the MLB collective bargaining agreement on Dec. 1, and the inability to strike a new deal has shut down all baseball activity for the foreseeable future.

Unfortunately for fans, this means that their favorite team will not deliver the hot free agent that they requested from Santa. When a new deal is reached by the owners and the Players Association, however, the Diamondbacks could end up with the biggest gift of all: the number one pick in the 2022 MLB Amateur Draft.

A proposal by the owners as part of the new labor deal negotiations would change the existing MLB Draft system, which is currently determined entirely by record. Based on the new proposal, the draft would still be based on wins and losses, but the three teams with the worst records in MLB would enter into a lottery to determine the order of the top three picks. The system is similar to those used by the NBA and NHL.

Last season, the D-backs ended up tied with the Baltimore Orioles at 52-110 for the worst record in baseball. The current draft stipulations state that the number one pick in this scenario would be awarded to the team with the worst record in the prior season. Oddly enough, these two teams had the same record in 2020 as well. In this unique situation, MLB is required to go back to 2019 to determine the draft order, giving the first overall pick to Baltimore because it had the worse record that season.

With the inevitable implementation of a new collective bargaining agreement, however, the proposal by the owners could negate all of those tiebreakers. Since the changes would immediately go into effect for the 2022 season, the D-backs would have no choice but to roll the dice and see if they could move up.

Conversely, they could also drop down to the third pick, which would be such a D-backs thing to endure.

On the one hand, the proposed change would be a drop in the bucket for correcting competitive balance in baseball. The only teams that would be impacted are the teams with the three worst records, which is hardly an incentive for tanking.

On the other hand, this change could prevent a race to the bottom of the standings like we saw this past season between the D-backs and the Orioles. Baseball is a difficult sport in which to deliberately tank, considering the length of the season and the variables that impact each team. However, organizations can field a less than competitive team for the majority of the season, which is something we saw across the sport in 2021.

While this change would be minor compared to some of the suggested proposals for the new CBA, the lottery could take some of the sting out of finishing the season with the worst record and still missing out on the number one pick in the draft.

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