The Astros’ failure to sign Brady Aiken resulted in the team receiving a compensation pick (No. 2 overall) in the 2015 draft, and while we’ve seen problems caused by comp picks in the Top 10 under the new CBA (specifically heading into the 2013 season), MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes reports that a change has been made to the protected pick structuring (Twitter links). Previously, the CBA had called for the “Top 10” picks to be protected, but changes have been made that will protect the picks of the teams with the 10 worst records, regardless of whether or not comp picks are inserted into the first 10 selections.
This very situation may have cost the Mets a chance to sign Michael Bourn in the 2012-13 offseason (an outcome that, in hindsight, may have been beneficial to New York). The Mets finished the 2012 campaign with the 10th-worst record in baseball, but their No. 10 pick was pushed back to No. 11 due to the Pirates’ inability to reach agreement with 2012’s No. 8 overall pick — Mark Appel (who was drafted 1-1 by Houston the following season).
The Mets were weighing an appeal to the commissioner’s office that would have allowed them to sign Bourn and surrender a second-round pick, as Bourn had turned down a qualifying offer from the Braves and was subsequently linked to draft pick compensation. Before any resolution of the matter could ever be hammered out, the Indians made a four-year, $48MM offer that Bourn accepted. It’s not clear if that scenario prompted the change, but it’s logical to speculate that the Bourn situation could have sparked the change.
Coincidentally, the Mets currently have the 10th-worst record in baseball once again, though obviously that’s subject to change over the final two-plus months of the season. However, regardless of which team ends up having their pick pushed back from No. 10 to No. 11 to accommodate the Astros’ new selection, that pick will remain protected. That team, therefore, would only have to surrender a second-round pick in order to sign a free agent that turns down a qualifying offer.
This will mark the second consecutive year that the Top 11 picks are protected in the draft, although the reasoning behind the protection of this year’s No. 11 pick was different. The Blue Jays received the No. 11 pick as compensation for failing to sign 2013 No. 10 overall pick Phil Bickford, and compensation picks, by definition, are protected under the CBA.