Major League Baseball has released details about its first competitive balance lottery, which will award extra draft picks to small-market teams beginning in 2013. Not surprisingly, the Nationals are not one of the 13 teams that will be eligible for the first lottery.
MLB will choose teams for the new lottery based on their market size and revenue, not based on their payroll. It's not surprising the Nationals are not eligible, considering they play in one of the biggest, most affluent metro areas in the country and are in a four-year-old stadium, but this is confirmation they are one of the better-earning teams in the league.
The 13 teams eligible for the first competitive balance lottery are: the Diamondbacks, Orioles, Indians, Royals, Athletics, Pirates, Padres, Rays, Reds, Rockies, Marlins, Brewers, and Cardinals. Those teams will be eligible for one of six extra picks, which will come after compensation picks for free agents, and each team's chances of winning a pick will be based on its 2012 record.
Interestingly enough, four of the eight playoff teams in 2011 are on this list, including the world champion Cardinals and the Brewers, who lost to St. Louis in the National League Championship Series. The Reds went to the playoffs in 2010, and the Rockies reached the playoffs in 2007 and 2009. Of the teams on the list, only the Royals, Pirates and Orioles have failed to post a winning season in the last eight years.