Competitive Balance Lottery Dodges Rays Once Again

By Robbie Knopf

The Major League Baseball Competitive Balance Lottery has been in place for three years now. It hopes to make up for variability in market size among MLB franchises by awarding additional selections to teams who play in smaller metropolitan areas. For the second time in three years, however, the Tampa Bay Rays were not awarded a pick, and they have to be annoyed that the system is doing nothing to help them. Here were the complete results of the Lottery.

Competitive Balance Round A (following first round)
1. Miami Marlins
2. Colorado Rockies
3. St. Louis Cardinals
4. Milwaukee Brewers
5. San Diego Padres
6. Cleveland Indians

Competitive Balance Round B (following second round)
1. Cincinnati Reds
2. Oakland Athletics
3. Seattle Mariners
4. Minnesota Twins
5. Baltimore Orioles
6. Arizona Diamondbacks

Last year, the Tampa Bay Rays received the 10th overall in the Competitive Balance Lottery, which turned into the 72nd pick overall in the draft. The Rays were quite happy with that as they selected right-hander Brent Honeywell out of Walters State Community College. Armed with a low-90’s fastball and a screwball, Honeywell’s professional career is off to a nice start as he hopes to establish himself as one of the Rays’ best pitching prospects. Thus far, he has a 0.75 ERA and a 13-1 strikeout to walk ratio in 12 innings for the Advanced Rookie Princeton Rays. It is not as though Honeywell will necessarily turn into anything special, but he is a prospect worth watching and the type of subtle edge that the Rays deserve to make up for their inability to maintain even a league-average payroll.

This year, the Rays really tried, sporting a $77,062,981 payroll on Opening Day that was the highest in their history. Yet instead of receiving additional support from major league baseball, all they received was additional criticism regarding their stadium situation and no additional draft pick via the Competitive Balance Lottery. The stadium situation is a whole other discussion, but there has to be some way to fix the Lottery. Could Major League Baseball add a Competitive Balance Round C after the third round to ensure that everyone receives selections? Could they change a system where the Lottery’s teams are based on market size and revenue while each teams chances of receiving a pick is based on record? In any event, the only way the Rays are going to receive a Competitive Balance Lottery Pick for next year’s draft will be if they receive one from the Cardinals or Mariners in a David Price or Ben Zobrist trade.