All Things Baseball

Deal or No Deal?

This offseason has been unique in the riduculous amount of money being thrown around by teams, and in the horrible decision-making by baseball’s GMs.  Much of this has been caused by the awfully shallow free agent class of 2006, requiring teams to overspend in order to fill their holes, because of the huge advantage players and agents have on this type of market.  Today, we saw yet another interesting twist to this already drama-filled offseason: teams and players backing-out of deals. 

Rod Barajas

One of the two deals to be called-off was Catcher Rod Barajas’ contract with the Toronto Blue Jays.  Barajas and agent Gregg Clifton reportedly agreed to an offer from Blue Jays’ GM JP Ricciardi over the weekend or on Monday.  Then, shortly before Barajas was scheduled to fly to Toronto for an introductory press conference, he switched agents.  The free agent catcher re-hired his former agent Dan Lozano, who then contacted Ricciardi about renegotiating the deal.  The Jays’ GM was infuriated saying “If your word doesn’t mean anything anymore, and your signature [doesn’t mean anything], what kind of world do we live in?” 

Rod Barajas did not respond to allegations of backing-out of the deal, but his new agent played defense for him.  Lozano said he never called Ricciardi to renegotiate the deal, but rather wanted to iron out some things that he believed “weren’t done right”.  Lozano also accused Ricciardi of being rude on the phone saying “I simply informed JP that I represented Rod Barajas again and told him I had to call the union to get the union involved.  JP’s response to me was ‘I’m calling the commissioner’s office'”. 

Even though JP Ricciardi said that “things worked out for the better”, he continued attacking Rod Barajas’ decision to cancel the deal, and criticized his decision to switch agents during the final stages of the signing process.  “The original [agents] agreed, and they did a great job — a super job,” “Your word is supposed to mean something. What does that say to the agents you just did a deal with? You’re going to get a new agent and start renegotiating?”  If Ricciardi truly believed that things worked out for the better, he certainly didn’t show it. 

The Blue Jays have apparently moved on however, bringing back their 2006 back-up catcher Gregg Zaun with a 2-year, $7.5M pact, to be (presumably) their starting catcher. 

One thing is clear from all of this: Rod Barajas will never play for the Blue Jays after this fiasco. 

Joe Borowski

In the 2nd of the two back-outs, it was the Philadelphia Phillies pulling the plug on their multi-year deal with free agent reliever Joe Borowski.  Phils’ GM Pat Gillick and Borowski’s agent Ron Shapiro had reportedly agreed to a multi-year contract for the veteran reliever, but the team backed-away because of injury concerns.

After Borowski took his physical, a team doctor analyzing the results was concerned about the reliever’s throwing shoulder.  Taking the team doctor’s advice, Gillick called Borowski’s agent, apologized, then said that the Phillies could not stay with the agreed-upon pact. 

Borowski’s agent did not seem extremely disappointed or perplexed about the situation, and he was optimistic that his client would get a decent contract somewhere else.  Shapiro also would not rule out the possibility that Borowski will still land with Philadelphia, on a 1-year hitch. 

If Borowski hadn’t had shoulder problems before, GM Pat Gillick and the Phillies might’ve overlooked the concerns brought about by his physical.  However, Borowski’s 2004 season was ravaged by shoulder ailments, and this likely caused Gillick to decide to play it safe and back away from the agreement. 

One wonders what other unique stories might come out of this offseason of mega-spending.  We’ve seen just about everything going wrong and not a lot of things going right for teams this month.  Perhaps the upcoming holidays will turn the tide and bring some smart decisions and good deals with them. 


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