The Angels are not tanking because wins and losses may not control the draft order
Okay, let’s pretend for a moment that the Angels do decide to tank the season and that they are somehow able to leapfrog the Royals and Pirates on their way to the worst record in Major League Baseball. That would mean they secure the top pick in the draft, correct?
Well, not so fast.
In past years, it was pretty cut and dry. The team with the worst record in the league got the first pick in the draft. Then the teams with the next worst records would get the successive picks from there. However, that is not necessarily the case in 2020.
As part of the negotiations with the players’ association prior to the season, Commissioner Rob Manfred secured the ability to set the draft order in the event of a shortened season, with the exact language as noted by Kiley McDaniel of ESPN.
"“In the event that each Club plays less than 81 regular-season games in 2020, the Office of the Commissioner shall have the right, after conferring in good faith with the MLBPA, to modify the Draft order.”"
As we all know by now, the 2020 season has been limited to 60 games, and virus-delayed teams like the Marlins and Cardinals may be hard-pressed to even get those all played. That means Manfred could come into play heavily in setting the 2021 draft order, regardless of records.
This clause seems to be a safeguard against the possibilities that a top team would tank after a rough start to the season. A team like the Angels would be hard-pressed to present a case to the commissioner outlining just why they are amongst the worst teams in baseball and should be justified in earning the top pick.
With those thoughts in mind, it is doubtful that the Angels would tank their 2020 season, even if the struggles continue. And in fairness, would the fans even want them to?