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One positive has come out of a 90-loss season: the Red Sox have a protected, top-10 pick in 2013.
Losing isn't any fun in baseball. But, if you're going to lose, it's better to be terrible than just mediocre. Sure, it's more painful in the moment, but there's better payoff in the future for being awful rather than just boring. The Red Sox are seeing this first-hand in what is an unusual situation for them. They are now guaranteed to pick in the top 10 in the 2013 draft, thanks to Sunday's loss to the Orioles.
Their 90 losses is more than 23 other clubs, and also more than 21 other teams can now get to. The Mariners, at 73-86, have the tenth-worst record in the majors -- while this should get them a top-10 pick, the Pirates have a compensation pick for their failure to sign Mark Appel that makes it so only the nine-worst records fit the bill. If the Mariners lost their last three contests, and everyone in front of them won out, they would still have only 89 losses. This would push Kansas City out of the top 10, but Boston's placement is safe. Where they end up isn't locked in yet, though.
As of right now, the Red Sox have an outside shot at a top five pick in the draft:
|Boston Red Sox||69||90||.434|
|Toronto Blue Jays||70||89||.440|
|Kansas City Royals||71||88||.447|
Boston is two games back of the Marlins and Indians, and three back of the Twins, who rank fourth in the current draft standings. If the Red Sox are swept by the Yankees, and the Indians and Marlins both win out against the White Sox and Blue Jays, respectively, then the Red Sox have the fifth-worst record in the majors, giving them the fifth pick.
That's asking a lot -- we're talking about two of the worst teams in the majors suddenly winning three in a row -- but the possibility exists, at least until the Red Sox win or either of those two loses, as they've done much of this year.
Boston last had a top-10 pick in the 1993 draft, when they selected Trot Nixon at seven. Before that, you have to look to the first three June drafts ever to find Boston's top-10 selections: Mike Garman, Ken Brett, and Billy Conigliaro, in 1967, 1966, and 1965, respectively. When you put 45 years in between 90-loss seasons, it's difficult to get picks this early on. The Red Sox lost at least 90 games in 1964, '65, and '66, before the Impossible Dream season of 1967 -- there's a reason it was named such -- and then went 45 years without until Sunday, when they lost their 90th to the O's.
This is the proper timing to lose 90 games, if it were bound to happen anyway. Boston is unlikely to receive a compensation pick for any of their free agents should they depart, meaning the Red Sox would have had just the standard draft order and position, with nothing extra for their budget or selections. This makes it so Boston has a larger draft budget, and a wider selection of high-ceiling talent to pick from. Remember, under the new collective bargaining agreement, spending is capped by handing out penalties for spending too much over budget, so flexibility and a larger budget is important.
Should the Red Sox sign a player who has been given the $13.3 million qualifying offer from their previous club, they will now only lose their second-round pick. It's still a loss, since having fewer picks will lower their budget, and also gives them one fewer early pick, but, depending on the player coming in, that could be a worthwhile sacrifice. While the Red Sox aren't likely to go after someone like Josh Hamilton or Zack Greinke, even a pitcher like Edwin Jackson could be handed the qualifying offer in order to bring back compensation.