Guardians win Draft Lottery, securing next year's top pick

December 6th, 2023

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Cleveland is on the clock.

The Guardians were the big winners of Major League Baseball’s Draft Lottery on Tuesday, held at the Winter Meetings for the second straight season, winning the No. 1 pick in the 2024 Draft. It will be the first time Cleveland has selected at the top of the Draft, having picked second overall on five occasions.

The first round of the 2024 Draft will unfold as follows:

1. Guardians
2. Reds
3. Rockies
4. Athletics
5. White Sox
6. Royals
7. Cardinals
8. Angels
9. Pirates
10. Nationals
11. Tigers
12. Red Sox
13. Giants
14. Cubs
15. Mariners
16. Marlins
17. Brewers
18. Rays
19. Mets
20. Blue Jays
21. Twins
22. Orioles
23. Dodgers
24. Braves
25. Padres
26. Yankees
27. Phillies
28. Astros
29. D-backs
30. Rangers
31. D-backs
32. Orioles
33. Twins

The Guardians had the ninth-highest chance of winning the No. 1 pick, at 2.0 percent. The Reds only had a 0.9 percent chance of winning, making the largest jump from where they would have picked if the Draft were based solely on lottery odds (No. 13). The Guardians would have had the No. 9 pick.

“[The lottery] certainly gives us an opportunity we otherwise wouldn’t have had in the other system,” Guardians president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti said. “The only way to do this in the other system is to have a really, really tough year where you [have] the worst record in baseball. I’d much rather get it this way.”

“It’s a super-exciting time,” Guardians senior vice president of scouting Paul Gillispie said on this week’s MLB Pipeline Podcast. “When we woke up this morning, we probably didn’t think we’d be in this position – 2 percent chance, holy cow. But it’s awesome. There was definitely a great deal of shock value. We were all watching it together in the suite. When you started reading the tea leaves, it got really loud, really quickly.”

The odds of the Guardians receiving the top overall pick and the Reds getting the No. 2 pick were approximately 5,000 to 1 (0.02%).

"Our goal is to not have a lottery pick again," Reds president of baseball operations Nick Krall said. "We want to continue this momentum and continue to move forward. This is great. I'm really happy for our staff. This is a lot of fun. I just want to keep adding players to our system and keep continuing to progress our big league club."

The Rockies were tied with the A’s and the Royals with the highest percentage chance of landing the top pick, at 18.3 percent. Oakland and Kansas City lost ground based on their initial odds but did still land lottery picks, while the White Sox dropped one spot, their 14.7 percent odds the fourth-highest total among teams up for a lottery spot.

Of the teams hoping to land a top-six spot, the Cardinals lost some ground, going from No. 5 (8.3 percent) down to the No. 7 pick. The Angels dropped from having the sixth-best odds (6.1 percent) to No. 8. The Pirates, winners of last year’s lottery, went from No. 8 (3.0 percent) to No. 9.

"I'm going to tell you what," said former Cardinals reliever Jason Motte, who was the team’s rep for the lottery. "We were on stage and a couple of us were talking as they were flipping [picks] over and I told [Howard Johnson] and Clint [Hurdle], 'I'm a little nervous.' Seventh is what it is. We were slated for fifth, but that's why they do it that way. Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. I wasn't lucky enough today. But it was a good time to take part in it."

The Nationals finished with the fifth-worst record in baseball in 2023 but were ineligible for this year’s lottery because “payor clubs” -- clubs that give, rather than receive, revenue-sharing dollars -- are not allowed to be selected in consecutive lotteries. Their odds were reduced to zero, and they were not eligible to pick higher than No. 10, which is where they land in the Draft order.

Three other teams -- the Mets, Padres and Yankees -- that were eligible for the lottery also dropped in the first round. The Mets had the seventh-best odds (4.3 percent) to win that top pick, but because they, along with the Padres and Yankees, exceeded the second surcharge threshold of the Competitive Balance Tax, they will have their first overall pick dropped 10 spots because they did not land one of the top six picks in the lottery. That means the Mets will pick No. 19, while the Padres and Yankees will pick at Nos. 25 and 26, respectively. (The complete 2024 Draft order can be found here.)

The remaining non-playoff teams in the lottery that didn’t land in the top six will pick in the first round based on reverse order of 2023 record, meaning the top 18 picks look like this, with the Marlins, Rays and Brewers -- all playoff teams -- rising up to the last three spots in the top 18 due to the Mets, Padres and Yankees dropping. The numbers in parentheses denote where the teams ranked in the lottery odds:

1. Guardians (9)
2. Reds (13)
3. Rockies (T-1)
4. A’s (T-1)
5. White Sox (4)
6. Royals (T-1)
7. Cardinals (5)
8. Angels (6)
9. Pirates (8)
10. Nationals (N/A)
11. Tigers (10)
12. Red Sox (11)
13. Giants (12)
14. Cubs (16)
15. Mariners (17)
16. Marlins (N/A)
17. Brewers (N/A)
18. Rays (N/A)

Teams that receive revenue-sharing payouts can't receive a lottery pick for more than two years in a row, and those that don't get revenue-sharing payments can't get a top-six choice in consecutive Drafts. That means the A’s will not be eligible for one of those selections for the 2025 Draft after landing a lottery spot in 2023 and for ‘24. Furthermore, a club that's ineligible for the lottery can't select higher than 10th overall.

The Draft will remain at 20 rounds, and after the first round, the non-postseason teams will choose in reverse order of winning percentage. In all 20 rounds, the playoff clubs will choose in reverse order of their postseason finish (Wild Card losers, Division Series losers, Championship Series losers, World Series loser, World Series winner). Within each of those playoff groups, teams are sorted by revenue-sharing status and then reverse order of winning percentage.

The D-backs and Orioles have selections after the first round by virtue of Prospect Promotion Incentive picks, which are awarded to teams that have a player who was rated as a preseason Top 100 prospect by MLB Pipeline, Baseball America, and/or ESPN (at least two of the three) and goes on to win Rookie of the Year or finish in the top three in the MVP or Cy Young voting after starting the season on his team's Opening Day roster.

And the Twins will have a pick immediately following the PPI picks as compensation for losing Sonny Gray, who signed with the Cardinals after rejecting his qualifying offer from Minnesota.

That means picks 19-33 in the first round will look like this:

19. Mets
20. Blue Jays
21. Twins
22. Orioles
23. Dodgers
24. Braves
25. Padres
26. Yankees
27. Phillies
28. Astros
29. D-backs
30. Rangers
31. D-backs (received for Corbin Carroll winning Rookie of the Year)
32. O's (received for Gunnar Henderson winning Rookie of the Year)
33. Twins (received as compensation for Sonny Gray)

Last year, in the Draft Lottery, the Pirates won the first pick, enabling them to take Paul Skenes. They were tied with the Nationals and A’s with the best odds to win. The Nats ended up with the second pick, while the A’s ended up picking sixth. The Twins, who were 13th in terms of lottery odds to win the No. 1 pick, vaulted up to No. 5.

After the first round, the lottery results won't affect picks 1-18, which will be in reverse order of winning percentage.