The Texas Rangers’ draft position for the 2018 MLB Draft is now a topic worthy of exploration, given that the team has been officially eliminated and it is time to look to next year.
If the season were to end today, the Rangers would be tied with the Tampa Bay Rays for the 16th best record in MLB. Under MLB’s draft tiebreaker rules, if two teams have the same record, the team that had the worse record the previous year gets the higher pick. Since Texas had the best record in the A.L. last year, and a better record than any team other than the Nationals and the Cubs (both of whom are playoff teams this year), in any situation where the Rangers have the same record as another team, the other team will pick higher than Texas.
As a result, Texas would pick 15th if the season were to end today, one spot after Tampa and one spot ahead of Seattle. However, there’s a huge clump of teams all clustered together with similar records in the A.L., so that could (and likely will) change by the time the season ends.
The worst Texas could do, record-wise, to end the season is 76-86. Eight teams (ChiSox, Detroit, Atlanta, the Mets, Philadelphia, Cincinnati, the Padres, and the Giants) already have 86 or more losses, so the best the Rangers could pick in the 2018 draft is 9th.
The best Texas could do, record-wise, to end the season is 81-81. Twelve teams already have at least 82 wins, so the worst the Rangers could pick in the 2018 draft is 18.
The Pirates and A’s both have 85 losses already, which means that they would seem unlikely to end up with a better record than Texas — in the case of the A’s, Texas winning one game in their final four game homestand against the A’s would clinch a better record than Oakland.
Given that, the most realistic scenario is that the Rangers select somewhere between #11 and #18 in the 2018 draft. They are smack in the middle of a clutch of eight teams with anywhere from 79 to 83 losses, and how those eight teams finish out the season will determine where Texas ends up picking.
Its worth noting that, under the new CBA, the Rangers (because they don’t receive revenue sharing money and don’t pay the luxury tax) would forfeit their second-highest pick if they were to sign a free agent who gets a qualifying offer. In previous years, they would lose their first round pick if they signed a qualifying free agent if that pick wasn’t in the top 10. Thus, there’s no need to panic about the possibility that they screwed things up and can’t sign a QO free agent if they end up at, say, #11. Texas will lose a second round pick if they sign one of those, and will get a compensatory pick after the second round if they lose a free agent who gets a QO (though the only real candidates for a QO from Texas are Andrew Cashner and Carlos Gomez).