We might be closer to solving a huge mystery surrounding the 2021 Major League Baseball draft.
And if a new report from ESPN’s Jeff Passan is accurate, it’s very good news for the Boston Red Sox.
Passan reported Tuesday, citing a source familiar with MLB’s thinking, that it’s “highly likely” the 2021 draft order will be determined by this season’s records.
“While MLB has yet to announce whether teams’ 2020 records will determine draft order, a source familiar with the league’s thinking said that the clause written into MLB’s March agreement with the players’ association that gave the league the right to determine draft order was a contingency in case the season was canceled well before records were indicative of much,” Passan wrote.
There had been speculation that MLB commissioner Rob Manfred might choose to reorder the 2021 draft — potentially combining teams’ records from the two most recent seasons — after a 2020 campaign shortened to 60 games due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
This would have had an adverse effect on Boston’s draft positioning, as the Red Sox finished 2019 with a respectable 84-78 record — tied with the Chicago Cubs for 14th in MLB — but have one of the league’s worst records in 2020.
If MLB stays the course despite its abbreviated 2020 schedule, this could result in the Red Sox landing a top-five selection for 2021 rather than picking in, say, the 10-15 range.
Boston entered Tuesday tied with the Arizona Diamondbacks for the third-worst record in baseball (20-34), trailing just the Pittsburgh Pirates (15-39) and Texas Rangers (19-35).
Since the Red Sox (84-78) finished with a worse record than the Diamondbacks (85-77) in 2019, they’d hold the tiebreaker over Arizona and own the No. 3 overall pick in 2021 if the current standings hold up and MLB indeed chooses to consider only 2020 records.
Of course, things still can change over the final week of the regular season, potentially jumbling the draft order. It sure seems like the Pirates will land the No. 1 overall selection, though, while the Red Sox could wind up picking as high as No. 2.
That’d be a nice development for Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom, who is tasked with replenishing Boston’s farm system while trying to build a sustainable contender.
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