Pirates Business: A Primer for the 2023 MLB Draft Lottery

Since the offseason started, I’ve been using this weekly space to jump from one demarcation point to the next — as that’s what the first few months of the baseball offseason consist of before proceedings slow down into the new year.

Next up is the Winter Meetings, and while a big focus around here has been the Rule 5 Draft — which closes out that event every year — I wanted to focus today on a brand-new part of the proceedings this year, the draft lottery.

For those of you who didn’t follow along during the lockout, a draft lottery was implemented in the new Collective Bargaining Agreement at the behest of the players to try and reduce tanking.

While it’s obviously too early to tell if that is working or not, it does mean that the draft order will be determined differently for 2023 and moving forward. I just wanted to highlight some of the most important aspects, as the Pittsburgh Pirates’ first pick of the lottery era is hanging in the balance come December 6th.

As it is with draft lotteries in other sports, the worst teams have the best chance of selecting highest. The first six picks will be determined by lottery, and instead of giving the worst team the best chance, the parties settled on the three worst teams having the same chance—16.5%—of selecting first. From there, all the remaining teams that didn’t participate in the playoffs have a chance at selecting Top-6, with teams 4-18 all having an opportunity, with descending likelihood of course.

Tiebreakers are determined by the prior season winning percentage, which is why the Pirates finished higher than the Cincinnati Reds despite the same record for 2022.

Here is the best layout of the entire odds set that I’ve seen, so shoutout to @CannonballCrner on Twitter for sharing:

Picks outside the lottery (7-18), will be determined by winning percentage of the remaining teams. Therefore, this is why the Pirates can pick as low as 9th—six teams with worse odds than the Top-3 jump into the lottery, leaving the aforementioned Top-3 to select at 7, 8, and 9. As you can see, this would only happen three out of every 1,000 drawings of the lottery, so it’s not very likely, but technically possible.

To illustrate this even further, look at a team like the Milwaukee Brewers. They can only select in the lottery or 18th—there is no in-between since they had the best record of non-playoff teams. Then the Baltimore Orioles can either select in the lottery, 17th, or 18th, and it would only be 18th if the Brewers are Top-6. This pattern repeats itself for the rest of the teams with the worst chance at number one.

What about the rest of the draft, you may ask?

Picks 19-30 are determined by playoff finish, with losers in the Wild Card round picking highest, followed by Division Series, Championship Series, and World Series, with the World Series winner selecting last.

Not only that, but the losers in each round are sorted further, with revenue sharing status determining the initial order, then going by winning percentage.

That means teams that receive revenue sharing will select higher in the draft, followed by teams that neither receive nor pay, with payors receiving the lowest picks.

I’m sure that may be a tad confusing, so here’s the order for 2023 from Baseball America, as the playoffs are behind us and the order determined:

  1. Rays (Wild Card loser, recipient, 86-76)
  2. Blue Jays (Wild Card loser, neither, 92-70)
  3. Cardinals (Wild Card loser, neither, 93-69)
  4. Mets (Wild Card loser, CBT payor, 101-61)
  5. Mariners (LDS loser, recipient, 90-72)
  6. Guardians (LDS loser, recipient, 92-70)
  7. Braves (LDS loser, recipient, 101-61)
  8. Dodgers (LDS loser, CBT payor, 111-51)
  9. Padres (LCS loser, CBT payor, 89-73)
  10. Yankees (LCS loser, CBT payor, 99-63)
  11. Philadelphia Phillies (World Series loser)
  12. Houston Astros (World Series winner)

As you can see, the New York Mets pick the lowest among the Wild Card losers, as they are a payor, while the Tampa Bay Rays select highest as a revenue sharing recipient.

Then take notice to teams with the same revenue sharing designation in each round — the team with the worse record selects higher, as you can see with the San Diego Padres and New York Yankees — two payors who lost in the Championship Series.

While that covers the first round, rounds two through twenty go strictly by record for the non-playoff teams—so the Pirates will pick third in every round—while the same order will be in place for the playoff finishers as in the first round.

Finally, as far as the lottery goes, restrictions were put into place to try and end extended runs of futility. Revenue sharing payees cannot receive a lottery pick in three consecutive years, while non-payees can’t pick in the lottery in two consecutive drafts. In the event that would happen, the team in question would receive zero percent odds and couldn’t pick any higher than 10th. In conjunction, every other team’s odds would be increased proportionally in order to ensure a sum of 100%.

Therefore, the Pirates can be as bad as they want in 2023 and still pick Top-6, but there would be repercussions as far as the draft goes if they were bad again in 2024.

Offseason Calendar Update

There are no transaction deadlines coming up this week.

Pirates Payroll Updates

—The team made their first external minor league signing, inking relief pitcher Nate Webb to a deal.

It doesn’t affect payroll, as it’s not a major league deal, but Webb has no major league service and has two options remaining after using one in 2022.

—In a bit of a headscratcher (and I’m not even talking about why he was available on waivers while all other designated players from the same time were nontendered), the Pirates claimed Lewin Diaz from the Miami Marlins, designating Hoy Park for assignment to make room.

I have Diaz at 1.004 years of service, which means he comes with five years of contractual control, but he also has no options remaining, meaning he must stick on the active roster or risk being lost on waivers.

Assuming Park was outrighted and as a tendered player had to be paid his split contract fee, payroll went up $136,854. However…

—The Boston Red Sox wanted to jump the waiver line, acquiring Park for DSL lefthander Inmer Lobo.

Lobo is a long-term play, as he isn’t Rule 5 eligible until 2026 and eligible for minor league free agency until 2028.

With Park out of the mix, payroll went right back down $126,854, netting to a $10,000 raise for Diaz’s major league salary over Park’s.

—Finally, the team made their first dip into the free agency pool, signing Carlos Santana to a one year, $6,725,000 contract.

I know no official corresponding move has happened as of this writing, so I’m just going to sub Santana in for Lewin Diaz at this point, as I can’t see all three first base acquisitions being on the roster to start the season.

Assuming Diaz gets picked up, payroll goes up $5,990,000 because of the signing, pushing the estimate over $50 million.

—For 2023, the payroll estimate stands at $51,991,637 for the Labor Relations Department, while it’s $68,408,304 for CBT purposes.

A longtime Pirates Prospects reader, Ethan has been covering payroll, transactions, and rules in-depth since 2018 and dabbling in these topics for as long as he can remember. He started writing about the Pirates at The Point of Pittsburgh before moving over to Pirates Prospects at the start of the 2019 season.

Always a lover of numbers and finding an answer, Ethan much prefers diving into these topics over what’s actually happening on the field. These under and often incorrectly covered topics are truly his passion, and he does his best to educate fans on subjects they may not always understand, but are important nonetheless.

When he’s not updating his beloved spreadsheets, Ethan works full-time as an accountant, while being a dad to two young daughters and watching too many movies and TV shows at night.

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Watch Giants with their 0.6% chance of 1st overall pick get that and same day sign Aaron Judge while Pirates end up picking 9th.


Pirates don’t have to worry about it as much if they tried to put a halfway decent product together.


Haven’t followed it yet any generational talents coming in this next draft?


from bleacher report: “Ole Miss shortstop Jacob Gonzalez and LSU outfielder Dylan Crews are the leading candidates to go No. 1 overall as things stand”

Gonzalez is the early front runner for #1 , but things can change pretty quickly based on spring performances


Thanks I remember reading about Crews in some of the articles last year now that you mention it


Don’t be sorry, cynicism is proper regarding this ridiculous process. Just like you, I fear the worst possible outcome for the Pirates but taking a view of the ‘bigger’ picture, this system is a debacle in the making for baseball. Smaller markets, more often than larger markets, field inferior teams that more often have poor records and those teams pick ‘higher’ in the draft. Their fans look forward to this. The new system darn near guarantees one or more of these teams, hence their fans, will get ‘screwed,’ every year. The large markets don’t care because they get to choose from the most successfully developed ‘prospects’ regardless of whether they were drafted or not when they reach free agency. This new draft process will be another reason baseball will loose fans.

Wilbur Miller

Too simple and straightforward. We’ll win the top pick and draft some guy who suffers a career ending injury in his first pro game.


A cynic after my own heart. Mine get downvoted, but yours don’t. ‘Rank’ has its privileges, I guess. 🙂


As long as we don’t draft a relief pitcher or someone who we think might be a number three starter lol.

Last edited 2 months ago by john_fluharty

Blows his elbow out trying on uniform shirt after signing contract, no doubt.


Swinging a wiffle ball bat trying to hit his little sister’s curve ball

Wilbur Miller

Or maybe the ol’ Jose Silva injured-turning-off-alarm trick.


I actually got to see Silva throw a shutout in Milwaukee back at old County Stadium on one of my baseball trips. That same trip, Jimmy Anderson only gave up 1 run at old Riverfront.

What a trip that was.


I can guarantee I could have and still could beat Jimmy Anderson in a footrace. I feel like he always had red cheeks. Always liked watching him pitch. Bet he was a cool dude to hang out with.


Loved that ‘famous’ pic of him in a ‘sweat suit’ pitching and his belly was showing.


Just looked it up for a reminder. They don’t make em like they used too.


Great breakdown thank you. I didn’t realize we get #3 pick from rounds 2 on. Two questions :

1- we have a 16.5% chance for #1 overall but is there someone good at math, ie not me, who can relay what our odds are for a top 2 pick, or a top 3 pick?

2 – I should know this but I don’t: do we have a competitive balance pick this year and if so what overall # is that ?

Wilbur Miller

Based on the chart, wouldn’t it be 32.1% for top two and 46.6% for top three?

They still have competitive balance rounds, but I can’t find any information about them. Everybody writing about the draft stops after going over the first round lottery.

Wilbur Miller

If you think about it, this isn’t a bad system for the Pirates. They’ve got roughly a 50-50 chance to get at least the pick they’d have had anyway, with a 1/3 chance of a better pick.
Of course, with BC punting season after season, they’re going to start getting penalized.

Last edited 2 months ago by Wilbur Miller
Wilbur Miller

“the Pirates are at the bottom of the comp round”
BC has turned losing into an art form.


I’m glad you are around to write these sort of articles, Ethan. I don’t know of any other site that has that this kind of content.

Last edited 2 months ago by john_fluharty

Thanks for the thorough explanation Ethan. As with most things with MLB, it’s far more complicated than it should be.

My first reaction is to wonder how the Atlanta Braves receive CBT revenue? Seems wrong to me that they should be in the same category as the Rays and Guardians.

My second thought is I wish the Pirates were at risk of losing draft position if they finished at or near the bottom again this year. I can’t help but think this will factor in how they construct the team this winter.


It’s the Rube Goldberg Draft system.


Three straight years of sub-.400 winning percentages? Derek Shelton still the Manager? Our only hope is to continue going young with pitching and position players and hope to build something over the next 2 years.

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