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Guardians beat the odds to win draft lottery; will have top pick for first time

Manager Stephen Vogt and the Cleveland Guardians will have the top pick in the 2024 draft.George Walker IV/Associated Press

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Cleveland will have the No. 1 pick in next year’s amateur baseball draft for the first time, winning a lottery on the second try Tuesday after Washington came out with the top spot initially but was ineligible.

Major League Baseball and the players’ association agreed to the lottery in their March 2022 labor contract, an innovation to discourage struggling teams from deliberately trying for a top draft pick by getting rid of veterans.

The 18 teams that failed to make the playoffs entered the weighted lottery, and the first drawing of four Ping Pong balls at the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center came up with 3-9-11-13 — a winning combination for the Nationals among 1,001 combinations.

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Washington was ineligible to pick in the top six because the collective bargaining agreement states a team that pays in the revenue-sharing plan cannot have a lottery pick in back-to-back years, and the Nationals chose outfielder Dylan Crews with the No. 2 selection this year.

The balls were redrawn, and 8-14-10-7 were selected, a Guardians combination. The results were presented about two hours later on MLB Network in the televised show from a ballroom at the Winter Meetings.

Cincinnati will pick second in the July 14 draft at Arlington, Texas, followed by Colorado, Oakland, the Chicago White Sox, Kansas City, St. Louis, the Los Angeles Angels, Pittsburgh, and Washington.

Detroit selects 11th, followed by Boston, San Francisco, the Chicago Cubs, Seattle, Miami, Milwaukee, and Tampa Bay.

The Guardians were tied for the 22nd-best record among the 30 teams this year and had a 2% chance to win the lottery. Based on lottery odds, Cleveland jumped all the way up from the No. 9 slot, while Cincinnati moved from 13th to second.

Cleveland has selected second five times since the amateur draft started in 1965, most recently taking Paul Shuey in 1992.

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West Virginia infielder JJ Wetherholt, Wake Forest first baseman Nick Kurtz and righthander Chase Burns, Oregon State second baseman Travis Bazzana, and Florida first baseman and lefthander Jac Caglianone are among the early projections as possibilities for top picks.

Oakland, which had the worst record in the big leagues at 50-112, dropped to fourth after falling to sixth last year when finishing with the second-worst mark. The Athletics, Rockies, and Royals each had an 18.3% chance of winning the first pick, tied for the best percentage among all teams.

The New York Mets, Yankees, and San Diego are each likely to drop 10 slots in the draft because they will exceed the threshold for the second luxury tax surcharge and were not winners of a top-six pick in the lottery. The Mets are projected to pick 19th, the Padres 25th, and the Yankees 26th.

Oakland will be ineligible for a top-six selection in 2025 because it receives revenue-sharing money and already will have had two straight top-six picks.