2020 MLB Draft (...Twisted)

Updated: Apr 24, 2020

With the NFL draft underway and a fundamental shortage of baseball, I decided to have a little fun. That fun being entering all players into the draft pool and "mock" the first round of the rebuild draft (with the 2020 First Year player draft order).

Just one caveat- each player comes drafted with their existing contract and free agency!

1. Baltimore Orioles – OF Ronald Acuna Jr (Free agency – 2029)

Probably the easiest pick of the whole draft. Acuna Jr. gives the Orioles a top 10 hitter capable of playing all 3 outfield spots an elite level. Not only is there a strong case to suggest that Acuna may be the best player not named Mike Trout in baseball, there is absolutely no debate that Acuna boasts the most team friendly contract in the game. His AAV (Average annual value) of $12.5m until 2029 ($100m total) is below what his arbitration value would be in the years within it. The most team friendly contract in the game combined with 40:40 talent and a perennial MVP bid makes this pick seemingly a lock.

2. Detroit Tigers- OF Christian Yelich (Free Agency- 2030)

The Tigers have a never shied away from a high value contract (Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder, Justin Upton & Justin Verlander) and Christian Yelich becomes the latest. With his $215m contract seeing him through to his age 37 season (2029), the Tigers gain an All-Star and MVP calibre hitter into the middle of their order for the next decade. Yelich’s 20 fWaR ranks third amongst hitters between 2017 and 2020 with only Mike Trout and Mookie Betts above him.

3. Miami Marlins – 2B Ozzie Albies (Free Agency- 2027)

With the Marlins payroll having only exceeded $110m twice (2017 & 2018) since 2001, it seems wise to be frugal with the drafted salary. If Derek Jeter wasn’t at the helm, I’d expect this to be a different one, but as it is the Marlins get one of the most complete middle infielders on one of the best contracts in the game. Owed ‘just’ $35m between 2020 and 2027 with an AAV of $5m, Albies give the Marlins one of the best young players in the game on a brilliant contract. His 10.3 fWaR ranks 2nd amongst all players 23 or younger, trailing only Cody Bellinger.

4. Kansas City Royals – OF Eloy Jimenez (Free Agency- 2027)

Like the Marlins, it probably pays to be economical with the pick. The Royals are not likely to take on the contract the size of Trouts, Harpers or Coles, so where do we go? Eloy Jimenez fits the royals mould perfectly with his all-round talent. After immediately struggling in his transition to the Major Leagues following his top prospect stardom, Jimenez found his feet as the season progressed eventually hitting 31HRs with a WRC+ of 116. Assuming he continues his development, Jimenez gives the Royals perennial All-Star talent at just $7m a year until 2027 (43m/7yrs).

5. Toronto Blue Jays- 3B Alex Bregman (Free Agency- 2025)

Despite having a payroll over the $100m in each year since 2013, the Blue Jays largest contract still remains that of Vernon Wells ($126/7yrs) way back in 2006. With that contract carrying an AAV of around $18m, it doesn’t feel like the Blue Jays would shatter that completely. Consequently, Alex Bregman feels a nice fit here to man the hot corner. Gold glove defence and an MVP level bat, Bregman gives the Blue Jays an immediate All-Star presence into the heart of their line-up at just $20m a year until 2025. His 19.5 fWaR ranks only behind Trout, Yelich, Rendon and Betts- all of whom he is greatly cheaper or controllable than.

6. Seattle Mariners- 3B Anthony Rendon (Free Agency- 2027)

The Mariners have never been afraid of giving large contracts out, so why wouldn’t they take arguably the most complete 3rd baseman in the game at 6? Defensively and offensively faultless, Rendon provides the Mariners with a bat to build around and an immediate face of the franchise. With Chapman hitting free agency in 2024 and Arenado having the decision of an opt out, Rendon seems a sure fire success in the North West. His .310 batting average since 2017 ranks 5th amongst all hitters with his 19.9 fWaR ranking an even better 4th amongst batters.

7. Pittsburgh Pirates- OF- Luis Robert (Free Agency 2028)

With the largest contract in team history just $60m/6 years to Jason Kendall in 2000, there’s no way the Pirates break the back here. Talent wise, Luis Robert is the perfect long term replacement in the outfield for Andrew McCutchen and at just $8.3m a year until 2028, the face of the franchise is locked up for the best part of the next decade.

8. San Diego Padres - 3B Nolan Arenado (Free Agency – 2027)

Probably an honest tossup between Nolan Arenado and Fernando Tatis Jr, but with an extra 2 years of control on Arenado, I will have the Friars taking their new 3rd baseman. Manny Machado has demonstrated that the Padres are happy to commit big money to that position already; Arenado makes perfect sense for the Padres, particularly given his superior bat and glove to Manny. The only concern is that he opts out of his $260m/8 year deal at the end of 2021, but Anthony Rendon ($245m/7) and Christian Yelich ($215m/9) recently proving that Arenado’s contract is above the going rate for a late 20’s hitter, the chances of that seem relatively slim.

9. Colorado Rockies- SP Walker Buehler (Free agency 2025)

With the Coors affect, offense is the obvious and fun way to lean, but with the league full of power bats in a way that has never been seen before; I am going to have the Rockies taking a young elite and controllable arm. His ability to induce ground balls at a 42.7% rate (2019) and miss bats (10.6 K/9) would set him for great success at altitude. With his free agency lined up for 2025, the Rockies would get at a very minimum, 5 seasons from the games top young pitcher at a position they crave so desperately.

10. Los Angeles Angels – OF Mike Trout (Free Agency 2031)

This may be the easiest and simplest pick of them all. They can afford the best player in baseball. Therefore they take him. No financial concerns or constraints. Mike Trout, you and your gazillion dollars are staying in Southern California.

11. Chicago White Sox- 3B Yoan Moncada (Free Agency 2026)

Of all the picks, this was one I found the hardest. Yasmani Grandal has recently become their largest ever committed salary with an AAV of $18.25m between 2020 to 2023 ($73m), so despite picking at 11; the Southsider’s are not in a great position to splash the cash on the big fish still there. The one I came down on was their very own Yoan Moncada. Costing around $14m until 2025, Moncada having broken out in 2019 (.315/.367/.548) gives the White Sox an affordable middle of the order bat with monumental upside for the foreseeable future.

12. Cincinnati Reds- OF Juan Soto (Free Agency- 2025)

Removing the largest contracts from consideration, there seems no reason for the Reds to take anyone other than the best player available- that being either Juan Soto or Cody Bellinger. Essentially a coin flip decision, let’s go with Soto because of the extra year of control. Cincinnati, meet your new 56 HR and .900 + OPS outfielder.

13. San Francisco Giants – OF Cody Bellinger (Free Agency 2024)

Having been priced out of the Bryce Harper stakes and unwilling to commit to 13 years, it seems fair to rule the Giants out of taking on Cole or Machado’s contract also. With Posey’s $159m still sitting as the franchise record contract, let’s have the Giants taking the best player available. Even with only 4 years of control, Bellinger feels like a can’t miss pick here. How do you like those apples LA?

14. Texas Rangers- SS Fernando Tatis Jr (Free Agency 2025)

The Rangers could go in any number of ways here. But why not take the probably the best future SS in the league. A genuinely 5-tool player signed through 2025 seems like a relatively can’t miss pick. Add into the mix of moving from PETCO Park to the new Globe Life Stadium, which if anything like its predecessor, could see Tatis enter the illustrious 30:30 club.

15. Philadelphia Phillies- SP Jacob DeGrom (Free Agency 2025)

The obvious (and easiest) pick is Bryce Harper given they were the ones to commit $330m to him over the next 13 years. But I don’t think that would be the way they go. The Phillies haven’t been afraid to take a financial risk over the last 15 years, so the money is relatively off the table. With that, it’s relatively hard to pass up on a back-back CY Young Winner, even if he does come at $27.5m a year for the next 5 years ($137.5m). Despite his opt out option at after the 2022 season; I can’t see DeGrom taking it up after his age 33 seasons.

16. Chicago Cubs – SS Gleyber Torres (Free Agency 2025)

Think Javy Baez minus the defence with less strikeouts and a better OBP. Baez is set to hit the open market in 2022 with Torres hitting the market in 2025. At 4 years his junior, Torres’s upside is scary. In the middle of both the Cubs line-up and infield, Torres makes for the perfect bat for Chicago to build around. Only 5 hitters 24 or younger (Joey Gallo, Cody Bellinger, Juan Soto, Ronald Acuna Jr & Francisco Lindor) have a higher isolated power than Torres.

17. Boston Red Sox – 1B Peter Alonso (Free Agency 2025)

Being the first of the remaining big financial players still left with a pick, there is no one really off limits for the Red Sox here. With that said, let’s have them take a guy on his rookie contract and under team control through 2025. In his rookie year, Pete Alonso pulled 37 fly ball’s & line drives to LF which would have carried the Monster. How fun would seeing him hit in Fenway with those porches be?

18. Arizona Diamondbacks- 2B Keston Hiura (Free Agency 2026)

Young power hitting middle infielders are worth their weight in gold, just ask the Yankees about Gleyber, the Cubs about Javy or the Rockies about Story. Hiura slots into the 3 hole of the Diamondbacks line-up perfectly. Having taken baseball by storm in 2019, Hiura (.303/.368/.570) demonstrated his immense danger at the plate with a WRC+ of 139, 5th amongst all rookies in 2019. His natural combination of power and contact make for him being one of the elite youngsters in baseball. With 6 years of control, it’s a nice pick for the Diamondbacks.

19. New York Mets- OF Bryce Harper (Free Agency 2031)

I know this one won’t be a popular one. But it seems to tick many a box. The Mets get their coveted middle of the order bat; the fans get their blockbuster name to trash talk Yankees fans with and the guys in RF get regular souvenirs in the shape of HR balls. There’s an emerging idea amongst baseball fans that Harper is overrated and not nearly as valuable as the popu