TigsTown Q&A Part 1: Int'l Director Tom Moore

Many fans aren't familiar with how clubs go about acquiring international talent. That’s the exact job that is bestowed upon Tom Moore, the Tigers director of international operations. In part one of a two part series, Tom talks with TigsTown about the international signing bonus pool and the potential for a worldwide draft, along with how to compete against clubs that are spending lavish amounts.

TigsTown: How did things change since the bonus structure and limits got put into place a couple of years ago?

Tom Moore: It’s really been status quo for us. We think it’s important to sign and develop kids in your program, whether they be from Venezuela or someplace else. Obviously there are still the high profile kids that command a lot of money and have a lot of tools, but there are also a lot of guys that won’t get a lot of money and will develop later.

For me, I guess it’s changed that we have to decide if we’re going to put all our eggs in one basket with one guy or spread it around and be more patient with more guys.

TT: Are you guys still planning on having a heavy focus in Venezuela, given the political climate and other clubs recently pulling out of the country?

TM: As long as we can be there we will, the proof is in the pudding. Baseball is so big down there, and they’ve produced a lot of big leaguers, everyday players.

TT: And we’ve got plenty of them on our roster.

TM: Yes absolutely. And so it’s hard to ignore that, and like you said the guys on our big league roster have a presence there. When I was working with the Red Sox, David Ortiz, Pedro Martinez and Manny Ramirez were playing there and everyone wanted to sign with the Red Sox – it holds true with the Tigers’ organization today that some Venezuelan guys are more interested in the Tigers now, because of Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez and Anibal Sanchez.

Obviously if the money is a lot different in terms of the signing bonus, that’s a huge factor, but if it’s the same or at least close, it’s definitely an advantage for us.

TT: What do you make of the talk of having a worldwide draft?

TM: Well I’ve always had the mindset that we’ve got to take whatever rules there are and play by those rules. And just go at it, obviously adjust your philosophy and try and be as aggressive as you can.

I’ll be interested to see how it works because it’s a lot more complex setting something up internationally than it is in the States – different cultures, different laws, that sort of stuff. It’s pretty complex. But I think there’s got to be something put in place, just because of the way the players are being acquired now.

The way the draft is set up now in the States, it’s leveled the playing field. Teams that are picking high are the ones with the advantages. Those talented guys aren’t falling down like they did in the past. It’s harder to have an advantage, other than having good scouts that can evaluate players that you can get later in the draft. It’s a lot harder to get advantages like that, even if you have a lot of cash on hand.

TT: Speaking of cash on hand, the Yankees blew their bonus pool out of the water last year. What are your thoughts on that approach?

TM: Like I said, they are taking advantage of the situation where they’re able to do that. It’s not against the rules. They’re paying the penalties, but they've decided that’s their strategy. No one holds anything against them for doing that.

But you can still sign guys that aren't going to command those dollars – players like Salvador Perez, Gregory Polanco, Starling Marte, Starling Castro. There are a lot of guys that signed for not as much money. You've got to be patient and you've got to have the development system in place.

That’s why I think Major League Baseball is interested in having some sort of tweak in the system. I think the new changes to the amateur draft have been effective at trying to level the playing ground as well as keeping teams that have more resources from getting advantages than teams with less resources. Currently in international market, the rules have not been as effective in accomplishing that goal.

Stay tuned for part two on Tuesday, where TigsTown talks with Tom Moore about the organizational philosophy on talent acquisition and how important it is for the scouting and development staffs to be working closely together, along with where in the globe the organization is looking for emerging talent internationally.

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