As the post-season chase takes shape, it’s time again to think about the placement of the teams that are falling out of the picture. While those in the mix for pole draft position sit at or near the bottom of their respective divisions, they stand to cash in with lofty selections in next year’s draft. This season’s Reverse Standings will be updated as results come in, and can always be accessed via the right-side toolbar (under “MLBTR Features”) at MLBTradeRumors.com.
Why “reverse standings”? Draft order is determined by simple reference to win-loss record at the end of the season, worst to first. Any ties are broken by awarding the higher pick to the team that had the lesser winning percentage in the prior season. (While compensation picks are given to teams that fail to sign players from the previous draft, at one slot below the selection, that rule won’t impact things this time around since all of the 2015 first rounders are under contract.)
The other important thing to note, of course, is the concept of protected picks. While a team that signs a free agent who declined a qualifying offer sacrifices its highest draft choice, teams awarded top-ten selections are not required to part with those picks to sign such a player. Instead, those clubs would give up their next-highest pick in the event that they sign a QO-rejecting free agent. In the reverse standings linked above, protected selections are denoted with a green check mark.
As things stand entering today’s action, the Braves are right on the heels of the Phillies for the first overall choice in the 2016 draft. Landing the top overall pick not only gives a team a chance to take any player available, as Baseball America’s Ben Badler explained yesterday (Twitter links), but provides that club with a massive bonus pool and the ability to “control the leverage of the entire draft” by reaching arrangements with other top players that can be selected with later picks.
The Astros have demonstrated that approach several times in recent years. Back in 2012, they took Carlos Correa over Byron Buxton in part to help add Lance McCullers Jr. and Rio Ruiz (not to mention players like Brett Phillips and Preston Tucker). And last year, utilizing a pair of top-five selections, the club was able to score top-ten talent Daz Cameron in the 37th overall slot.
Notably, also, several teams in the “race” for top draft picks already have — or could obtain by trade — competitive balance selections that would open more slot money and an additional early selection. Those choices, which take place after the first round (including its qualifying offer-compensation component), were determined by lottery. The Reds, A’s, Rockies, D’backs, Marlins and Pirates received the six Round A picks this year, in that order, and all but Pittsburgh also stand to pick up top-ten selections if the current reverse standings hold.