The Detroit Tigers have not been shy about forfeiting draft picks in exchange for signing top free agents in years past. They went without true first round picks for three consecutive seasons from 2010 to 2012, and lost out on their second and third round picks in the 2016 MLB draft.
This year, the tables have turned. Thanks to two other free agent signings around baseball, the Tigers will have the No. 18 overall pick in the 2017 MLB draft. They were previously slated to draft at No. 20, but moved up after the Colorado Rockies and St. Louis Cardinals signed free agent outfielders Ian Desmond and Dexter Fowler, respectively. Both Desmond and Fowler had declined qualifying offers earlier in the offseason, which required their new teams to forfeit a first round pick upon signing them to a contract. The Texas Rangers and Chicago Cubs — Desmond’s and Fowler’s former teams, respectively — received compensation picks that come after the conclusion of the first round.
The Tigers selected right-handed pitcher Matt Manning with the No. 9 overall pick in the 2016 MLB draft. It was their highest selection in seven years, when they took righthander Jacob Turner at No. 9 overall in 2009. Their first round pick in 2017 is still much higher than in recent years; other than the Turner and Manning picks, the Tigers have not drafted as high as No. 18 overall since a five-year run of top-10 picks ended after the 2006 season.
Fortunately, plenty of talent can still be found at No. 18 overall. Outfielder Blake Rutherford was the 18th pick in last year’s draft after many considered him a potential top-10 selection. Young stars Corey Seager and Sonny Gray were selected 18th by their current teams in 2012 and 2011, respectively.
Here is the full list of first round picks in 2017:
- White Sox
- Blue Jays
- Red Sox
- Blue Jays (compensation for Edwin Encarnacion)
- Rangers (compensation for Ian Desmond)
- Cubs (compensation for Dexter Fowler)