The eyes of the baseball word have been focused on the Giants and Padres showdown in the NL West as well as the residual wild card ramifications involving the Braves. Even though the Rays and Yankees do not seem too interested in winning the AL East, some attention has also been cast their way. For teams who have long been eliminated from the playoffs, however, another tight race is ongoing…jockeying for position in the 2011 amateur draft.
Because teams that finish in the upper half of the standings lose the protected status of their first round draft pick, the most significant implications involve those on this “bubble”. Although the top-14 slots are already locked up, six teams are still straddling the cutoff: Tigers, Angels, Athletics, Marlins, Mets and Dodgers. Of course, this is a race that no one wants to win because the one that does will risk losing its first round selection if they sign a type-A free agent.
Although the A’s and Marlins aren’t likely to sign a type-A free agent, the other four teams are sure to be involved in various negotiations. For example, if the Angels are really planning an aggressive pursuit of Carl Crawford, it will not only cost them a pretty penny, but perhaps their first round draft pick as well. The same implications apply to the Mets’ potential interest in Cliff Lee as well as the Dodgers alleged desire for a reunion with Jayson Werth.
Teams on the “Protected Bubble”
The jockeying for the coveted 15th slot not only impacts the six teams involved, but also those who stand to lose a type-A free agent in the off season. So, not only should Rays fans be keeping an eye on their team’s game against the Royals, but it would also be wise to keep tabs on the Angels game against the Rangers. With two wins, the Angels could jump up to “claim” the 15th slot, leaving its pick vulnerable as potential compensation.
In addition to the bottleneck in the middle of the standings, there is also a key “race” at the bottom. The Royals, Orioles and Diamondbacks are all still in play for the third overall pick, which depending on the depth of the upcoming draft class could be a significant “reward”. Looking at the standing upside down might not be much fun, but these inverse battles for position can often make the difference in how quickly a team can turn things around.
Race for Third Pick in 2011 Draft