Detroit — Only hours before the Tigers make the first overall pick in Monday night's baseball draft, they and presumed top choice, Casey Mize of Auburn, are at apparent odds over money.
Neither the Tigers, nor Mize's advisers, the Bledsoe Agency, have offered even a private hint the past 24 hours that any progress has been made on a tentative contract, which customarily would be agreed upon ahead of drafting a player, particularly in the first round.
The Tigers are allowed to spend slightly more than $8 million with Monday night's first pick, which was set for 7 p.m. (MLB Network). The money is allocated by Commissioner Rob Manfred's office and follows a sliding scale throughout the draft.
The Tigers are known to be offering something less than $8 million, which is typical of clubs with first overall picks. The savings then can be applied to later draft choices who sometimes must be lured from opting for college scholarships or from returning for their senior year of college.
Mize is a right-handed starter and exceptionally skilled pitcher who for at least the past three months has been a popular choice as America's top amateur baseball talent.
It is known that Mize and Bledsoe are seeking something much closer to a full $8 million payday.
Mize and his representatives are aware of national reports and conversations that have stated the Phillies, who have Monday night's third overall pick, want Mize and are willing to pay with the No. 3 slot money equivalent to the Tigers' heavier amount at one-one.
The Tigers have perhaps more options than does Mize.
They can choose to draft Mize and trust that the parties later can come to an agreement. If not, the Tigers would gain an extra first-round pick in next year's draft.
Mize's option, if he does not like the money, is to return for his senior year at Auburn. But he would be trusting that health, and similar draft status, would be unaffected during the coming year.
It is a lot to bank upon for a man 21 years old who is likely being offered well in excess of $6 million.
The Tigers could decide that any bitterness over money makes Mize a bad gamble and that they should consider another player.
But there is a problem in becoming dismissive toward Mize.
The Tigers aren't overly enthused about their back-up talent, even when they ideally want a hitter with their first 2018 pick.
Joey Bart, a catcher from Georgia Tech, has the earmarks of a fine big-league player. But there are concerns about his strikeouts and about how problematic they might become against better pitching.
Alec Bohm, a big, right-handed hitter and third baseman from Wichita State, has size and mobility issues that could, very soon, turn him into a first baseman.
Nick Madrigal, a second baseman from Oregon State, has a lovely glove, and a solid-contact bat. But he is 5-foot-7 and does not carry the brand of power big-league teams typically require at second base. Neither does he have an arm strong enough to move to shortstop.
Jarred Kelenic, a prep outfielder and left-handed powerhouse from Waukesha, Wis., is tempting to the Tigers. But the lack of quality pitching against which Kelenic has hit raises a red flag for the Tigers as well as various other clubs.
The Tigers could choose to draft a different pitcher, with only one serious candidate likely to be considered: University of Florida right-hander Brady Singer, who does not have the pitch repertoire or throw with the sizzle Mize has shown throughout 2018.
The Tigers also have the 44th overall pick in Monday night's draft, which will involve the first two rounds. Rounds 3 through 40 will be wrapped up Tuesday and Wednesday.
The Tigers landed the No. 1 pick after their 64-98 record tied them for worst in the majors with the San Francisco Giants. The Tigers, however, "won" the tiebreaker because their 2016 record (86-75) was worse than the Giants' (87-75).