It might be the most wonderful time of the year, but it is also an annually annoying time of the year: the time when every other team in the NL Central gets a very valuable package slipped into their stocking.
Free draft picks:
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) December 4, 2019
As you may recall, clubs in the bottom ten in revenue *OR* market size qualify for these competitive balance draft picks, which come after the first round or after the second round (the groups of teams alternate each year). The Cardinals, for example, get a freebie pick right after the first round in 2020 thanks to their market size – regardless of their revenue or spending.
How annoying are these picks? Well, did you see today’s news? The Brewers got theirs yesterday and then this morning bundled it with a meh prospect to land catcher Omar Narvaez from the Mariners.
The Cubs are the only team in the NL Central that will never qualify for one of these freebie picks, which is a reminder that the structure of competitive balance in the sport explicitly anticipates that the Cubs will out-spend their division rivals. That means none of us should feel bad about the Cubs spending more than the Brewers or Reds or Pirates or Cardinals. The Cubs are supposed to spend more. And that means not only should we not feel bad about it – or bitch about the comp picks too loudly – but we should have an expectation that the Cubs should be aggressive on the financial side of things. It’s part of the league’s competitive balance.