Baseball BeatNovember 19, 2004
Hello, Is Scott Boras There?
By Rich Lederer

According to Mark Saxon in an article in The Orange County Register this morning ("First come, first served?"), Jered Weaver could find himself on the outside looking in if the Anaheim Los Angeles Angels decide to use the money earmarked for their #1 pick to sign Kendry Morales, a switch-hitting young slugger who defected from Cuba in June and is now living in the Dominican Republic.

Morales, reputed to be 20 years old, is represented by David Valdes, who is reportedly seeking a deal similar to the four-year, $9.5 million contract that Mark Teixeira received from the Texas Rangers as the fifth pick overall in the 2001 draft. Teixeira was an All-American at Georgia Tech and the NCAA Player of the Year in 2000.

The dollar amount is believed to be in the neighborhood of what Weaver's agent Scott Boras is seeking for his client. The Angel draftee's college stats are on par with Mark Prior--another high-profile signee from the 2001 draft--and the Chicago Cubs ponied up $10.5 million for the former USC Trojan.

Boras and Angel General Manager Bill Stoneman, however, have not begun serious negotiations. Scouting director Eddie Bane, no doubt frustrated that Weaver isn't already signed, sealed, and delivered with a month of instructional or fall league ball under his belt, fired off the following quote:

"It's just time to get going. I don't sense any urgency on their part at all. We've just been like, 'OK, we'll see what happens.' But (Boras) ran into a very patient man in Stoneman. He knows what he wants to do. We're not going to bid against ourselves."

Although Bane insists "there's only a finite amount of money," Weaver says the deal is "going to get done" and that he will be an Angel by spring training. Weaver's options are limited, especially in view of the fact that he apparently isn't interested in playing independent ball if a deal can't be worked out with the Angels.

In the meantime, the Angels are also pursuing free agent Carlos Beltran and exploring a Randy Johnson trade with the Arizona Diamondbacks. Arte Moreno has a lot of money and seems willing to spend it aggressively in the hopes of bringing another World Series championship to Orange County. That said, my sense is that there may not be room in the so-called budget for both Weaver and Morales.

Could the Angels' interest in Morales be a ploy to get Boras' attention? Sure. With Weaver unlikely to return to college or play in an independent league, his only other option is to wait out the Angels and return to the draft next June. The question Boras has to ask himself is whether the market is apt to be better or worse seven months from now, taking into consideration the potential loss of income for a year as he goes through a new round of negotiations with another major league team.

Like it or not, the Angels have more leverage than Weaver under the rules of the draft. Granted, Boras is not one to be bullied, but he ought to be at least talking to the Angels given Weaver's desire to sign and what should be a match made in heaven for the hometown Halos and the College Player of the Year.

(Thanks go out to Repoz at Baseball Think Factory for alerting me to this developing story.)