Reports Sunday by Sports Illustrated's Jon Heyman were that Cuban left-handed pitcher Aroldis Chapman was set to sign a deal worth $30 million over five years with the Cincinnati Reds. A press conference could come as early as noon.
Why does that matter to a Tigers blog you might ask?
Because today's morning lede question is, should the Tigers have pursued him harder given that deal?
For me, I was definitely intrigued. The more arms, the better. And the Tigers certainly freed up payroll. If they felt like he lived up to the hype before he came to America, I think he would be worth it at that price. Some reports were mixed, however.
The second question for those wishing for a bonus to debate: Given the way the Chapman bidding went, does the MLB really need a draft?
After all, the draft only covers players in the United States (and its territories) or Canada. They have some negotiating power -- as they can re-enter the draft at a later date -- but they cannot choose their teams. On the other hand, international players outside those two countries can sign with any team they want, and for any amount.
Given the increasing internationalizing of the sport, does it make sense to maintain a draft for such a limited pool?
The fear in abolishing the draft is that high-budget teams like the Yankees will be able to snatch up all the young talent available and leave lower-payroll teams -- like the Reds -- with no prospects. And yet, here a highly-touted prospect signed with the team whose payroll ranked 20th of 30 MLB teams in 2009. Another team said to be in the mix was Oakland, not an organization to be confused with high spenders.
This is a point Baseball Musings' David Pinto put forth Sunday.
The big money teams spend their money on known quantities, because they’re trying to win now. The teams that were in on Chapman where the teams building for the future.
I suspect the draft would never be abolished, of course, making this debate mostly academic in nature. The draft may not be must-see TV, nor will it ever be. But the MLB really is trying to push it, especially through the MLB Network. It also is necessary to make free-agent compensation work, of course. You can't have a team's first-round draft pick without a draft.
Plus, the draft might be working better now than a few years ago, when a top pitcher like Rick Porcello could drop into being drafted 27th overall simply because Scott Boras advised him in negotiations. For Tigers fans, this was great. For a system meant to get the best prospects to the teams with the most need, it was a failure.
Yet wouldn't it be interesting if the MLB just tossed out the draft? It was the first major sport in the U.S. to implement one, why not be the first to get rid of it?
Struggling franchises would no longer be limited to signing just one of the top prospects, giving them a way to compete with the higher payroll teams. Organizations would have entirely new ways to design their scouting and signing strategies. North American players could join worldwide players in deciding where they wanted to play baseball and for how much money.
Of course, you might think the draft should be expanded to include international players as well, as it is in the NBA. That would continue to reward good scouting, and likely add more intrigue to the second and third rounds than exists now.
So tell me, where do you stand?
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