You get very few rewards for losing, but a reward of sorts for the 2018 Orioles with all their losing would be a high draft pick in 2019. Perhaps, for just the second time in team history, the Orioles will secure the No. 1 pick in the June 2019 First-Year Player Draft, for losing more than any other this year.
But for that distinction, they have a challenger. As bad as the Orioles have been, the Kansas City Royals are just about right there with them. Currently, the Orioles have the worst record in the majors at 35-84 and Kansas City, after a win last night, is at 36-82. In 2014, those clubs met for the American League championship. Now they are competing for the top draft pick. It is a race that the Orioles lead right now by 1 1/2 games.
Except in this competition the loser wins. Yes, it is strange. We have some fans and readers of this blog that seem very, very engaged in this matter. They seem to revel in O's losses - each one presumbably getting them closer to the top pick.
I would imagine most die-hard and/or longtime Orioles fans have a dilemma here. Getting the top pick would be nice, but should they root for their team to lose? Can they even bring themselves to do that? Can the Orioles win by losing?
It's a strange situation. The Orioles are certainly not tanking, a concept where teams supposedly are okay with a lot of losing as it leads to higher draft picks. There is eventual gain with current pain.
If the Orioles do get the No. 1 pick, they would benefit from that. Not only could they pick whichever player they like, but they would potentially gain by having the highest slot amount of any in the draft. Teams can use any savings on top picks on other picks. In the 2018 draft the Detroit Tigers selected pitcher Casey Mize first and the slot amount for that pick was $8,096,300. Mize signed for $7.5 million so Detroit had an excess to spend of $596,300.
The slot bonus amounts rose by 4.2 percent from 2017 to 2018. If the slot amounts increase again by 4.2 percent for 2019, the Orioles (or Royals) would have a slot amount of $8,420,152 for the No. 1 selection.
The Orioles total pool amount for their top 10 picks in the 2017 draft was $8,754,400. The Orioles spent just about every penny, and then went over $10 million when you add in the signing amounts for picks they selected and signed in Rounds 11-40.
If the O's get that first pick next June, whichever player they select could garner a record bonus from the team. That mark is currently held by Matt Wieters, the Orioles first round pick in 2007. He signed a $6 million bonus, the most for the Orioles ever with a draft pick. Manny Machado got a bonus of $5.25 million. The 2018 top pick, prep right-hander Grayson Rodriguez, signed for a slightly under slot amount of $4.3 million.
If the Orioles get the top pick it would be for just the second time since the draft began in 1965. They had the No. 1 pick in 1989 and took LSU right-hander Ben McDonald. The Orioles have never had the No. 2 pick, and selected No. 3 just once - when they took Machado in 2010.
They have had the overall No. 4 pick six times. They took pitcher Greg Olson in 1988, outfielder Jeffrey Hammonds in 1992, pitcher Adam Loewen in 2002, pitcher Brian Matusz in 2008, pitcher Dylan Bundy in 2011 and pitcher Kevin Gausman in 2012.
Getting the No. 1 pick does not guarantee you will get an All-Star or future Hall of Famer or even an everyday player. There have been many No. 1 picks that never made the majors or did little when they got there. For every Bryce Harper, Ken Griffey Jr., Joe Mauer and Alex Rodriguez, there has been David Clyde, Shawn Abner, Brien Taylor and Matt Bush and we could list many more.
With 43 games to go, the Orioles are contenders. Contending to get the 2019 top draft pick. Is gaining that pick actually important enough to some fans that they are rooting against the current Birds?