It’s an annual tradition now: the day MLB bestows upon the rest of the NL Central – and other downtrodden smaller market and/or smaller revenue clubs – some freebie picks in the upcoming draft. “Competitive balance picks.” The Cubs will never receive one.
Here’s how things shook out this year, treating the other four NL Central clubs to free picks, which are the only draft picks that are tradable:
Competitive Balance Round A (with overall pick number)
37. Pirates (compensation for failing to sign a pick last year)
Competitive Balance Round B
At least the Cardinals got the “worst” pick, right? But the Reds, Pirates, and Brewers get really, really valuable picks there (the Pirates flipped to the other group this year, but still get a high pick because of a failure to sign their comp pick last year). More details on the system and how the picks are awarded here. Just be advised, the other NL Central clubs will probably always qualify, and the Cubs will definitely never qualify.
Now, then, you should also be advised that the theoretical reason for this disparity in treatment is because the Cubs are supposed to generate more revenue than the other teams, and are supposed to – therefore – be able to spend more money on big league payroll (among other things). Yes, there is also revenue-sharing in place to send some of the Cubs’ bucks to the other clubs, but they will still make more, generally speaking, than even the most successful team in St. Louis.
So, when you hear other markets’ fans griping about the Cubs’ lofty payroll, just remember that the system is designed to balance things out. And also, remember that the Cubs are *supposed* to be spending more money in order to make up for this draft pick gift (and also more IFA pool space, and also better luxury tax treatment, and also revenue sharing).