The September race execs are watching

If Sandy Alderson wants to be a real player for free agents, he needs a protected pick. Rich Schultz/Getty Images

The race that is drawing the most attention among baseball officials might not be that for the AL wild-card spots -- which increasingly appears to be a three teams-for-two-spots situation among the Rays, Indians and Rangers -- nor the final jockeying in the NL Central race.

No, the race being scrutinized is the one that will dictate how teams are going to be positioned for draft picks Nos. 7 through 14.

There are two reasons why this is crucial: