By: Noah Wright
Right now, it seems like half the MLB is tanking. And that’s fair given the current situation of some of the teams, however it is becoming a minor problem in the MLB. We see teams trading away their best players for prospects, which is fine. Some teams need to rebuild their farm system to be competitive again in a few years (see the San Diego Padres). But the main reason for tanking is to get higher draft picks. So, brainstorming, I’ve thought of 2 ways tanking can be lessened in the MLB.
1.) Salary floor:
I’ve previously covered this in another article on why the salary floor would be good, but I want to go deeper into why it would help lessen the amount of teams tanking in the MLB. Let’s say the salary floor is $60 million. Every team has to have an opening day payroll of at least $60 million. The consequence for not meeting this is having their draft slot lowered by 3 to 5 spots. For example, if a team has a $55 million payroll to enter the season and have the 7th overall pick in the draft, they would then be moved to the 10th spot at the very least. Teams looking for a higher draft spot would be more willing to spend on players who could help them. It could also show a willingness to try. If they sign a few quality players to 2 year deals or so, the team could look like they’re not just there for a better draft spot, but also be able to flip quality players for prospects the following deadline or off season.
2.) Draft reconstruction:
Right now, the draft is kind of the reason why teams tank. The worse record you have, the better draft selection you get. The Orioles will select the first overall pick in the 2019 MLB draft, as they finished 2018 with a hideous 47-115 record. But what if they didn’t get the first overall pick? Now I’m not saying that like the Boston Red Sox should have it, or something like that, but the draft needs revised. There is no reason the NL East champions, the Atlanta Braves, should have the 9th overall pick (along with the 21st overall selection) in the ‘19 draft because they failed to sign their ‘18 first round draft pick and filed for compensation. The only time this should happen is if the player decides to go play a different sport after being drafted by an MLB team, like Kyler Murray. Compensation picks need to be moved from the first round to the end of the second or third round. While that won’t directly impact tanking, it should be in the revision in the draft with my next point on draft reconstruction. The draft order should be almost random. The first round pick will never go to the World Series winner of the previous season, nor will it ever go to the team with the best regular season record. However, the first round pick will change year by year at random. Maybe the Orioles finish with the worst record in the MLB again, but they’re not going to be guaranteed the first overall pick. At the very least, teams with records in where they lost 95 or more games should be guaranteed a pick in the top 15. Where in the top 15, who knows, but they will get a pick in the top half of the draft.
Now don’t just assume that these will absolutely positively lessen the amount of teams tanking. I mean, they’ve never been tried before in the MLB, and there probably needs to be a lot more research done in how it would affect how teams spend, and play the off season. However, I do think if one of these theories were implemented into the MLB, we would see even the slightest reduction in the number of tanking teams, which means more action overall in the MLB, and potentially more revenue coming through the gates.