Sports Outside the Beltway

No more waiting on Wieters

Considering Andy MacPhail’s tenure with the Twins, Ken Rosenthal wonders if history is about to repeat with Matt Wieters now that MacPhail is with the Orioles.

MacPhail, the Orioles’ new chief operating officer, could be headed toward a negotiating stalemate with the team’s first-round pick, Matt Wieters, according to major-league sources.

Like Varitek, Wieters is a switch-hitting catcher out of Georgia Tech. Like Varitek, Wieters is represented by Scott Boras.

Orioles owner Peter Angelos had a long history of avoiding Boras clients before the team selected Wieters fifth overall in June.

MacPhail, former colleagues say, also would not be afraid to adopt a firm position with Boras.

“We’re still talking back and forth,” MacPhail told on Monday. “I really don’t know how it’s going to go.”

Andy MacPhail’s Jason Varitek debacle may be repeating itself with Matt Wieters. (Stephen Dunn / Getty Images)

The Orioles are not alone in their uncertainty; 11 other clubs have yet to reach agreement with their first rounders. The first-ever deadline for signing picks is 11:59 p.m. ET on Wednesday.

Boras represents three other unsigned first rounders — high-school infielder Mike Moustakas, the Royals’ pick at No. 2; high-school right-hander Rick Porcello, the Tigers’ pick at No. 27, and North Carolina State right-hander Andrew Brackman, the Yankees’ pick at No. 30.

The Orioles are not along in their quandary, still it’s hardly encouraging if the new regime fails to sign one of the most highly regarded picks in this year’s draft.

True, there’s always a risk and the premium paid to a Boras client makes failure even more expensive. (Think Brien Taylor.)

Rosenthal suggests that MacPhail may not be as rigid as feared.

The Sun’s Roch Kubato isn’t appeased.

The hiring of MacPhail altered the dynamics of the negotiations, according to one source. Another, however, disagreed, saying, “I don’t really think that’s it.”

MacPhail, who served as a management negotiator during last year’s labor talks, would seem likely to follow MLB’s slot recommendations for draft-pick bonuses.

However, during MacPhail’s tenure as CEO, the Cubs exceeded slot when they signed pitcher Mark Prior to a record $10.5 million contract in 2001.

I don’t know what would be worse. Would the failure to sign Wieters be a good sign because it would mean that MacPhail was really in charge? I’d guess that to say that is to engage in wishful thinking.

No knock on Andy MacPhail, but I’d feel better about the Orioles securing the Georgia Tech catcher if someone else was handling the negotiations.

MacPhail, for better or worse, is not going to be overly generous when it comes to signing bonuses. The commissioner’s office wants to keep them down, and MacPhail’s not going to fight it. Not with his background.

He’ll be fair, but I’m not sure fair gets it done. Stay tuned.

More Roch here

I’m told it will be a few more years before the MASN money starts rolling in, so that’s not a factor as tomorrow’s deadline approaches. In the meantime, and again, it’s not my money, but letting Matt Wieters re-enter the draft sends a bad message to fans, the players and the rest of the league.

The Orioles will have egg on their faces if they don’t sign him. Or for drafting him without realizing how much it would cost to sign him.


The latest from the Baltimore Sun.

Less than 24 hours before the deadline to sign draft picks, the Orioles remain about $5 million apart from reaching a deal with their top selection, Georgia Tech catcher Matt Wieters. And while team officials maintain they haven’t given up hope of signing the fifth overall pick, it will take a dramatic change to reach an agreement before tonight’s midnight cutoff.

According to club sources, Wieters’ adviser, Scott Boras, is asking for a deal that slightly exceeds the approximately $10.6 million deal that Mount St. Joseph graduate Mark Teixeira signed after he was drafted by the Texas Rangers in 2001. Meanwhile, the Orioles have sweetened their offer in recent days to just less than $6 million.

Even if the team gets the deal done, being this far apart so late in the game doesn’t reflect well on the franchise. Sigh.

UPDATE: A commenter on my blog was correct in pointing to the signing of Jered Weaver. The Orioles signed Wieters at the last minute.

Like the Angels and Weaver, the Orioles signed Wieters at the last minute. Principal owner Peter Angelos and new president Andy MacPhail worked on the deal while in Toronto for the quarterly owners’ meetings last night and, with 10 minutes left before the midnight amateur signing deadline, reached a pact during a phone call with Wieters’ agent, Scott Boras.

“They got the deal done,” said an elated Orioles scouting director Joe Jordan. “You can tell the city of Baltimore that the old evil owner stepped up and took care of things tonight. We had to fight to the end.”

“Evil owner?” Good, it shows that the front office has some perception how popular Angelos is with the fan base. Maybe he’ll start listening to his baseball people. And maybe we’ll then start appreciating him.

Crossposted on Soccer Dad.

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