MLB.com Columnist

Jonathan Mayo

In MLB first, Tigers, Marlins swap Draft picks

In MLB first, Tigers, Marlins swap Draft picks

In MLB first, Tigers, Marlins swap Draft picks
When news of the new First-Year Player Draft system was first announced, there was one small wrinkle that caught some people's attention: the ability to trade certain Draft picks.

When the Competitive Balance Lottery took place last Wednesday -- the system used to hand out those extra tradable picks -- that intriguing aspect came up again with many wondering exactly how and when teams might use the picks in Trade Deadline deals.

The answer was Monday, just five days after the lottery took place. The Tigers and Marlins exchanged the extra picks they had just been awarded as part of the deal that sent Anibal Sanchez and Omar Infante to Detroit and a trio of prospects, headlined by right-hander Jacob Turner, to Miami.

Aside from it being a novelty and an answer to an obscure trivia question in the future, what does this mean? What true impact does it have? The answer, obviously, remains to be seen, dependent on what those Draft picks turn into down the road. But there can be some examination of what it means in the here and now.

First and foremost, it allowed the Tigers to move up a full round with their extra pick. On Wednesday, the Marlins received the final of six picks in Round A, while the Tigers, who were only eligible for the second round of the lottery, got the final of the half-dozen selections in Round B. As of right now, their pick is at No. 73 overall. The pick they received from the Marlins? All the way up to No. 37.

That might not sound like that big of a deal, but keep in mind that Detroit's first pick in 2012 didn't come until No. 91. In 2011, the Tigers didn't get on the board until No. 76 overall. Back in 2010, Nick Castellanos was their first selection at No. 44. In fact, the Tigers haven't picked as high as 37 since 2009, when they had the No. 9 overall selection. That's when they took Turner, who was sent to Miami in this deal. Oh, the irony.

"We haven't had a first-round pick in three years," said David Chadd, the Tigers' vice president of amateur scouting and special assistant to the general manager. "Maybe we'll keep ours this year, then the supplemental pick is like a Christmas bonus. I really don't know what to think about it. We move up a little bit. I'll take it."

They'll also take the monetary component to the swapping of picks. A team's Draft pool expands with each pick it adds, including these lottery picks. In this past Draft, the first with the bonus pool system, the value for the 37th pick was $1,394,300 (Pat Light signed with the Red Sox for under value at $1 million even). ratliffmlb: The value for pick No. 73 was $701,700 (Max White signed with the Rockies for $1 million). By virtue of this deal then, the Tigers increased their Draft pool by $692,600 in 2013.

"That's a great point," Chadd said. "It expands our pool money a little. That certainly can be helpful in the Draft. Teams showed [creativity] by saving across the top 10 rounds and using that pool later on."

This isn't just a win for the Tigers, of course, though they are the ones who were the buyers in this case, and it does seem a bit incongruous for a team buying for a playoff run to improve its standing in the Draft. There's a plus side for the Marlins as well, though. Miami wanted three quality players from Detroit's farm system, including its top prospect in Turner. Turner and Rob Brantly are both just about big league ready, something that should help Miami retool quickly.

And it might only have come together because of the flexibility of the extra picks. As Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski tells it, the Tigers wanted the Marlins' pick in the deal, especially because Sanchez might end up being just a two-month rental. In effect, Detroit wanted a free-agent compensation pick ahead of impending free agency. Miami would only do that if it got the Tigers' pick back in return. That creativity didn't exist prior to the most recent agreement .

Who got the better of the deal might come down to whether Sanchez and Infante help Detroit back to the postseason. It might come down to just how good Turner, Brantly and left-hander Brian Flynn end up being. Or it could even be determined by what pick No. 37 and pick No. 73 turn out to be.

As a result of their late first picks in the past couple of years, the Tigers know what kind of value there can be at that stage of the Draft. Granted, a talent like Castellanos, who slid because of signability, would not be there in the new system. But in that 2010 Draft, the Tigers also got Chance Ruffin (48) and Drew Smyly (68) after the first round. Ruffin has pitched in the big leagues and helped the Tigers get Doug Fister in 2011. Smyly is currently in the Tigers' rotation.

"I like [the trading of picks]," Chadd said. "I think it gives clubs flexibility. It tells you how valuable it is by what happened today. I can only imagine it'll be stronger with other clubs. You never know, that 36th or 37th pick could make all the difference in the world."

Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLB.com and writes a blog, B3. Follow @JonathanMayoB3 on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.