Nats, as expected, get No. 10 pick in 2024 Draft (updated)

NASHVILLE – One year ago, Mike Rizzo sat on a makeshift TV set in San Diego and legitimately sweated out the final moments of the brand-new MLB Draft Lottery, in the end accepting the No. 2 pick after the Pirates won the No. 1 choice.

The tension wasn’t nearly as thick tonight for this year’s lottery. Rizzo wasn’t even in the room when the Nationals, who went into the event knowing they couldn’t pick any better than 10th, found out that’s exactly where they’ll pick next summer.

Despite finishing with the league’s fifth-worst record at 71-91, the Nats were ineligible for the lottery thanks to its convoluted rules.

The lottery fine print states that any team that pays (as opposed to receives) revenue sharing dollars cannot be selected in consecutive draft lotteries. So that knocked the Nationals out of the mix for a top-nine pick this year, and all but guaranteed they’d land the No. 10 pick. Their only other potential outcome would’ve been a drop to No. 11, something that only could’ve happened if all four teams that had a worse record in 2023 (the Athletics, Royals, Rockies and White Sox) lost the lottery.

That didn’t happen. Even though the Guardians and Reds surprisingly snagged the top two picks despite low odds, the Rockies, A’s, White Sox and Royals checked in with the third through sixth picks, locking the Nats in at No. 10.

Though they’ll be in the 10th position for the first round, the Nationals will revert to their appropriate No. 5 position for all subsequent rounds.

This will be the first time the Nats have held the No. 10 pick since 2009, when they were awarded a compensatory pick after failing to sign 2008 first-rounder Aaron Crow and wound up drafting closer Drew Storen out of Stanford (nine slots behind No. 1 pick Stephen Strasburg). It’s the ninth time they’ve held a top-10 pick, six of those coming between 2005-11, the other three coming over the last three years.

Players the Nats have drafted with top-10 picks over the years include No. 1 picks Strasburg (2009) and Bryce Harper (2010), No. 2 pick Dylan Crews (2023), No. 4 pick Ryan Zimmerman (2005), No. 5 pick Elijah Green (2022), No. 6 picks Ross Detwiler (2007) and Anthony Rendon (2011), No. 9 pick Crow (2008) and No. 10 pick Storen (2009).

The 2024 MLB Draft is scheduled for July 14 in Arlington, Texas, two days before the Rangers host the All-Star Game.

Update: Turns out there was more drama to this story than anyone realized there would be. The Nationals actually would have won tonight's lottery and won the No. 1 pick if they hadn't been ineligible.

According to a pool reporter who was present for the drawing, MLB included the Nats in the lottery in order to maintain every other team's proper odds. And the first four ping pong balls that were drawn came up in a combination that would have made the Nationals the winner.

Knowing from the outset they couldn't actually be declared the winner, the league then declared that drawing null and ran a second drawing that came up in the Guardians' favor.

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