Paul Wezner, Executive Editor
I believe Major League Baseball has the right intentions with their attempts in trying to force teams to only sign players at slot levels. While the Tigers are thrilled to have gotten such a talent like Rick Porcello, he fell to the Tigers because 20-plus teams ahead of them felt they couldn't pay him enough to sign him. The point of having the draft go in reverse order is so that the teams struggling the most have the opportunity to get the best talent, so long as things like this happen, it's going to continue. That being said, these are recommendations, not set amounts like in the NBA. And as long as that is the case, the Tigers are free to pay whoever they want as much as they want, much like the Yankees can run up a payroll ten times the size of others teams if they so choose.
Ultimately though, the recommendations are not going to have much influence on the Tigers one way or the other. They are free to pay as much as they want, and GM Dave Dombrowski is not going to let a world class talent like Rick Porcello go just because it might make Bud Selig unhappy. Baseball's monetary system needs wholesale changes to allow for every team to be able to compete, but until that happens, the Tigers take advantage of the great opportunity they have in front of them, and continue to add talent to the organization they, in reality, shouldn't have access to.
Mark Anderson, Managing Editor
In all honesty, MLB's attempt to regulate bonuses for draft picks is a complete joke. People can cite the reduction in bonuses, or that a majority of teams seem to be buying into the idea of slotting, or even that its helping the small market clubs; but its simply a joke. As it stands, agents and players are simply pushing themselves out of the range of teams looking for a slot bonus draft choice, and placing themselves in the hands of teams willing to pony up some serious cash. In the end, one of those teams willing to fork over the money is the Tigers, and the system is working to their advantage, as Cameron Maybin and Andrew Miller have both fallen to the Tigers when both were considered top two picks; and now, Rick Porcello is on the clock after being considered a top five pick and falling out of the top 25. If the Tigers remain willing to exceed the "recommendations," they will reap the rewards with a continually improving pipeline of young talent. Until MLB decides to actually put some teeth into a slotting system, it is going to remain broken and be taken advantage of by teams that are both willing to spend money, and willing to draw the ire of Bud Selig.
Jason Avery, Associate Editor, Amateur Baseball
I've always thought that the slot system should be used strictly as a guide. If MLB wants to lay out general guide lines to help teams think what players should reasonably sign for, that's one thing. However, since Bud Selig can't control owners on free agency, he has tried to get around the CBA by enforcing his slot system. The commissioner has made no secret of baseball rolling back figures and forcing teams to stick to them, and this is where he should rightfully draw the ire of baseball fans in every city. Simply put, he has no right to interfere and dictate what is in the best interests of the Tigers, or any team. No one in the commissioner's office has any "baseball" sense. They all think of these contracts strictly in terms of dollars and cents. With the cost of even mid-level free agents, it's smarter to spend a small fraction of what a typical multi-year deal is and bring in 30 players that all have an opportunity to help the team either through future trades or even making the big leagues.
It's no secret that those teams that draft players strictly on signability are on the bottom of the barrel, and the Tigers were certainly a team that fit that profile until recently. I know Scott Boras catches a lot of heat for the price tags he has on his players, but guess what, his clients aren't the only ones that fall due to signability issues. The Yankees and Red Sox also catch a lot of flak for some of the draftees they've signed to large deals, but no one mentions that the Braves, Blue Jays, Cardinals, Angels, and Rangers are among several teams that have also signed late-round picks for big deals in the past. What needs to happen is for the owners of these "signability" teams to stand up to Selig and tell him enough is enough and sign the impact players they badly need to get back on the track to respectability. Also, please don't tell me that no team has the money to sign anyone. If the Royals can cough up $55 million for Gil Meche, they can surely pay for Mike Moustakas. The best thing that could happen for the draft is for a team like the Pirates to sign draftees like Cameron Rupp, Robbie Broach, Bob Revesz, and Matt Clark. Once teams wise up to Selig, the draft will get back on even terms. The draft is certainly flawed, but baseball has had just as much responsibility in screwing up (can't trade picks, draft-and-follow process abolished, draft compensation, etc.) the process than any agent or team.
As far as the Tigers go, they've already showed that won't be effected by Selig's overtures to not sign good players due to a perceived money value that wasn't negotiated in the new CBA. If the Tigers don't sign someone like Cale Iorg, it won't be because of Selig, it will be because the Tigers feel that a player who hasn't played a game in two years and had a month to get in shape isn't worth the two million dollars he is reportedly seeking.
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