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Struggling Tigers inching towards top-5 pick in 2018 MLB draft

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They probably won’t get much higher than No. 5, though.

Cleveland Indians v Detroit Tigers Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images

Following the trades of Justin Upton and Justin Verlander last week, the Detroit Tigers have firmly set their sights on 2018 and beyond. The team seemingly echoed this sentiment in a forgettable weekend series against the Cleveland Indians; they were out-scored 29-5 in four games.

While the games themselves have been tough to watch, there is one silver lining to all of these losses. The Tigers currently have the fifth-worst record in baseball, meaning they would receive the No. 6 selection in the 2018 MLB draft. They and the New York Mets both have a 58-88 record, but the Tigers hold a tiebreaker over New York (more on that later). The Oakland Athletics are also 58-78, but hold the tiebreaker over both the Tigers and Mets.

Fans don’t always like to think of their team’s poor record, but the Tigers’ place in the final standings could have major repercussions for the future of the franchise. Obviously, a higher draft pick gives the Tigers a better shot at one of the top talents in the upcoming draft. For example, the Atlanta Braves took Kyle Wright with the No. 5 overall pick in the 2017 MLB draft, and he is already the No. 35 prospect in all of baseball according to MLB Pipeline. The four players selected ahead of Wright rank even higher.

The Tigers will have a larger bonus pool for signing both draft picks and international free agents.

The bonus allocation for the No. 5 pick in 2017 was roughly $5.7 million, with a difference of approximately $400,000 in either direction for the No. 4 and No. 6 picks. The Tigers were able to create some wiggle room with their bonus pool allocations in order to sign fifth rounder Sam McMillan last year; a higher draft pick would allow them to make even more of these moves in 2018.

Getting all the way up to the No. 1 pick will be difficult for the Tigers. The Philadelphia Phillies are 52-84, six games “ahead” of Detroit. Also in the way are the San Francisco Giants, Chicago White Sox, and Cincinnati Reds. Only the Reds are within striking distance, just one game “ahead” in the loss column.

If two teams finish with the same win-loss record, the tiebreaker goes to the team with the worse record in the prior season. For example, the A’s hold a tiebreaker over Detroit because their 69-93 record was much worse than Detroit’s 86-75 mark. Cincinnati would also hold a tiebreaker over the Tigers. However, the rainout that the Tigers never made up may come in handy; they hold a tiebreaker over the Mets, who were 87-75 in 2016.

Current 2018 MLB draft order (through Sunday, 9/3):

  1. Philadelphia Phillies
  2. San Francisco Giants
  3. Chicago White Sox
  4. Cincinnati Reds
  5. Oakland Athletics
  6. Detroit Tigers
  7. New York Mets
  8. Atlanta Braves
  9. San Diego Padres
  10. Toronto Blue Jays
  11. Pittsburgh Pirates
  12. Tampa Bay Rays
  13. Miami Marlins
  14. Kansas City Royals
  15. Texas Rangers
  16. Seattle Mariners
  17. St. Louis Cardinals
  18. Baltimore Orioles
  19. Los Angeles Angels
  20. Minnesota Twins
  21. Milwaukee Brewers
  22. Colorado Rockies
  23. New York Yankees
  24. Chicago Cubs
  25. Boston Red Sox
  26. Arizona Diamondbacks
  27. Cleveland Indians
  28. Washington Nationals
  29. Houston Astros
  30. Los Angeles Dodgers