Baseball BeatFebruary 18, 2005
Mediator for Hire
By Rich Lederer

This morning's Los Angeles Times article (Team, Weaver Are Still Far From Agreement) makes the Weaver signing more a matter of if rather than when.

Mike DiGiovanna quotes owner Arte Moreno as being "cautiously optimistic" about the chances of the Angels signing Weaver. However, it appears that the two sides are still millions apart. The Angels are stuck on the contracts inked by fellow first-rounders Justin Verlander, Philip Humber, and Jeff Niemann -- the second, third, and fourth picks in the June 2004 draft. Scott Boras, on the other hand, is set on getting a deal closer to the one signed by Mark Prior three years ago.

Boras made it clear before last June's draft what it would take to sign Weaver, a pitcher Boras has compared to Chicago Cub standout Mark Prior, who received a $10.5-million signing package out of USC. That's why so many teams with high picks shied away from Weaver, considered the top college pitcher in the draft.
(The Angels) would prefer to sign Weaver for something closer to $5 million, which is roughly what Rice University pitchers Philip Humber and Jeff Niemann, the third and fourth picks in the draft, received.

The Angels are at fault here given that "Angel General Manager Bill Stoneman called Boras shortly before the draft and asked what it would take to sign Weaver. After being told it would take something in the Prior range, the Angels used the 12th pick to select Weaver." As DiGiovanna asks, "Why did the Angels pick Weaver when they weren't ready to meet his asking price?"

Even Moreno can't answer that question.

"We had an opportunity to draft him, and Bill and Eddie [Bane, Angel scouting director] felt we could sign him," Moreno said. "He's a local kid, his brother pitches for the Dodgers, it was a great opportunity for him to pitch in his hometown � we focused on that."

As mentioned in my Weaver Update last weekend, "I don�t see where these negotiations should be as difficult as they have been. Given Boras� admission as well as the framework provided by the signings of Justin Verlander, Philip Humber, and Jeff Niemann, a contract somewhere between the one that Mark Prior signed and those inked by the above trio should be agreeable to both sides."

The failure on the part of Stoneman and Boras to reach such an agreement is troublesome, but I will be the first to admit that I am more upset with the Angels than Weaver's camp. As Scott told me at the Winter Meetings, the Angels have been "disingenuous" and, you know what, I agree. They never should have taken him in the first place -- at least not in the first round -- if they weren't willing to pay the asking price or something close to it.

I mean, if you listed your house for $500,000 and someone came along and offered $250,000, how would that make you feel? How would you feel if nobody else could even bid on your house for a whole year and you were left to negotiate a deal with that one "buyer"? Do you think that would be fair?

Offering half the asking price is insulting and a poor way to handle the negotiations for the most talented and major-league ready player in the draft. In the spirit of trying to get both sides to see the light, I will once again do my civic duty and volunteer the following two proposals:

  • $3.5 million signing bonus. $6 million minimum. $10 million maximum.

  • $3.5 million signing bonus. $8.5 million.

I want to know now -- which of you is not agreeable to one of those two deals? Whichever side is unwilling to meet in the middle on this matter should be named so we all realize just who is being stubborn here.

Memo to Arte, Bill, Scott, and Jered: I am available this weekend.

Comments

By giving your e-mail address in this column, your spam will now increase by about 1,000%. I doubt you'll hear from any of Arte, Stoneman, or Boras.

Yes, I realize both, Rob. Ninety percent of what I wrote was tongue-in-cheek, the other half (as Yogi Berra would say) was meant to be taken seriously even if it is highly unlikely that any of those mentioned would contact me.

I plan to take down the email address by the end of the weekend so it shouldn't be a problem longer term. But thanks for thinking of me.

Rich--
"I mean, if you listed your house for $500,000 and someone came along and offered $250,000, how would that make you feel? How would you feel if nobody else could even bid on your house for a whole year and you were left to negotiate a deal with that one buyer? Do you think that would be fair?"

It would depend entirely upon the value of the house. And if on an entirely open market like the housing market, nobody bid on your house for a whole year except one guy offering half the asking price, you really should get your realtor to contact reality. Of course, the draft isn't an open market at all, so it's not that great an analogy. Still, I think your proposals are fair, and if Jered Weaver won't take them up, I will.

I think you missed my point, John. I didn't suggest in my analogy re the house for sale that a year had passed and there was only one bidder. I just was making the point that you wouldn't be too happy about such an offer. Unfortunately for Weaver, he doesn't have the luxury of negotiating with other bidders. He is stuck with working out a deal with the Angels for one full year. He didn't even have a choice as to teams.

The Angels were willing to give Kendry Morales a six-year major league contract with a $3 million signing bonus and incentives that could push the total possible value to $10 million, but they seem to be unwilling to give Weaver a similar deal. Why (knowing full well the answer) is that?

Sorry, I was skimming and read "nobody else could even bid" as "nobody else even bid". Forget what I said then.