The Pittsburgh Pirates go into the final day of the season guaranteed to get a top ten draft pick in the 2018 draft. The final spot will be decided during today’s action in Washington and Texas.
The best the Pirates can do is get the ninth overall pick, but the worst they can do is get the tenth pick. If they win today against the Nationals, they will choose tenth in the 2018 draft. If the Pirates lose and the Oakland A’s win, then the Pirates will have the ninth overall pick. Both teams have 74 wins right now, but Oakland holds the tiebreaker due to a worse record in 2016. So if both teams win or both lose, the A’s get the higher pick.
The Pirates haven’t had a top ten pick since they took Austin Meadows with the ninth overall pick in 2013. They haven’t finished the season as one of the ten worst teams since 2011, when they got the eighth overall pick for the following season. That was the Mark Appel pick, which turned into the Austin Meadows pick as compensation during the following year after Appel refused to sign.
Besides the benefit of picking one spot earlier at the top of the draft class, one spot in the draft doesn’t seem like a big difference. If you look at it from the bonus pool numbers though, you see that it could make a difference when going over-slot in later rounds. The 2018 draft slot amounts won’t be finalized until a later date, but we can look at 2017 numbers for an idea of the difference. The ninth overall pick this year came with a $1,064,200 slot amount, which was $68,000 more than the slot amount for the tenth pick. You would also look at the differences through the first ten rounds. Everything after the tenth round, now has a $125,000 slot amount.
The difference in cost between the second round picks for the ninth and tenth place teams this year was $34,300. After that, the slot amounts become much closer. The combined total for the differences for rounds 3-10 came up to $23,600, giving you a combined difference for all ten rounds of $125,900 in their bonus pools. Teams are also allowed to go 5% over their bonus pool before receiving a major penalty, which adds another $6,295 to that spending, giving them an extra $132,195 extra to spend. If you use the 2017 draft as an example, the Pirates signed 14th round draft pick Chris Sharpe for $131,000 over slot.
The Pirates will also receive a competitive balance pick after the first round this year, which is guaranteed in the latest CBA. Teams that had a competitive balance pick after the second round this year (Pirates being one of them), get an extra pick after the first round in 2018.
If you want to get a way too early look at the possibilities for the ninth or tenth overall pick in 2018, Baseball America just released their lists of the top 50 prospects in both college and high school.
While I won’t say that fans should be rooting for a loss today in the final game, you do get a nice little reward in the 2018 draft if the Pirates lose and A’s win.
I’ll update this article (including the title) later after both games go final.
UPDATE 7:45 PM: The Oakland A’s cooperated by winning their game over the Texas Rangers, but the Pirates won 11-8 over the Nationals, so they end up with the tenth overall pick in the 2018 draft.