Monday Tigers Links: Today is MLB and union’s deadline for international draft decision

Bless You Boys

For decades, coming to the big leagues from the international player pool has been anything but a straightforward process. Outside of the familiar confines and routines of the annual domestic MLB draft exists a vast and largely unregulated worldwide game of scouting “walking lottery tickets,” as Cuban player defector Billy Henderson detailed to Sports Illustrated’s Greg Bishop. Each country presents its own challenges in making it to the big leagues, whether it be the long history of Cuban players defecting to the United States, iconic Japanese players being posted by their teams, or players throughout Latin America being “discovered” on quite literally a weekly basis.

I mean, come on — look at the Detroit Tigers roster right now! The Tigers have not sent a domestic-born player to the All-Star Game since 2019 when Shane Greene represented Detroit in Cleveland.

Major League Baseball is on the cusp of making a decision on whether they will establish an international draft beginning in 2024. As detailed in this recent New York Times piece, no country would be greater impacted by this decision than the Dominican Republic, where baseball community members are divided on the implications of a draft. Perhaps the one true All-Star success story for the Tigers in recent years has been relief pitcher Gregory Soto, a Dominican Republic native who signed as an international free agent in 2012 at age 17.

The most noteworthy international player in Detroit Tigers history is undoubtedly Miguel Cabrera, who spoke on the issue one week ago at All-Star Game media availability. “Whatever decision they make, I hope it’s the right decision for the future of Latin American players — for them to keep growing Latin American legends and have more Latin American players here in the United States. I hope it’s not a door that closes, but a door that opens,” Cabrera told reporters on Monday.

Personally, in an age of rapid globalization, I strongly believe that it makes sense to regulate the system for international players joining the league. Left as is, the present international system, at best, is a competitive balance issue for Major League Baseball, as free agency inherently is biased toward big market teams). At its worst, the present system’s relative lack of regulation and structure has led to corruption and cheating. We will see whether MLB and the union reach an agreement today.

Riley Greene slots No. 48 on FanGraphs’ 2022 Trade Value list, Spencer Torkelson an honorable mention

Each year, FanGraphs ranks their top 50 most valuable assets in Major League Baseball. In this year’s rendition, the two crown jewels in the Tigers’ organization, Riley Greene and Spencer Torkelson, ranked No. 48 and an honorable mention, respectively. Hopefully, both will climb on the list next season and the Tigers will have another young player at the very least sneak into the honorable mentions. At the very least, it’s nice to see two familiar names in this series for the first time in years.

Tigers’ first-round selection Jace Jung signs rookie contract

Welcome to the organization, Jace!

All eyes are on Juan Soto as trade deadline looms

Speaking of iconic baseball players from the Dominican Republic, trade rumors revolving around Washington Nationals outfielder Juan Soto are intensifying following reports last week that Soto rejected a significant contract extension offer from Washington. The MLB trade deadline is next Tuesday, August 2, at 6:00 p.m. EDT. I’m not sure that we will see a Juan Soto deal in-season, as the asking price appears to be higher than any player ever before. Soto currently holds a 149 wRC+ this year despite batting just .245, as his otherworldly 20.2% walk rate means that he has maintained a .401 on-base percentage through 94 games this season.

Craig Monroe had a classic car stolen

At least they didn’t raid his suit closet?

Enjoy Andrew Chafin while we have him

The Cubs fans miss him, and I’m sure the Athletics fans miss him. If only we had received his services during a period of more meaningful baseball.

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