After the Winter Meetings I took a small vacation and got right back to it. My first trip of the new year was to Ann Arbor for the Winter Classic and I slipped down to Chicago after the game to speak with the crew at SFX. They represent Jordan Zimmermann and I felt like he should be my fist priority of the new year. (The Red Wings won 5-2 by the way, run on out to Vegas now if you wanna be rich)
The team at SFX and I spoke for a while and laid down the ground work for structuring a deal before I returned to Washington. We would later meet in my office and strike a deal that would pay Jordan Zimmermann $94 million over 7 years. That deal was pretty easy and made everyone very happy.
During the meeting with Jordan's agents, I mentioned that the Nationals would also like to lock up Wilson Ramos, who is also represented by SFX. They offered to send a representative out and boy did they. I'm not sure if it was intentional or not, but Greg Landry knocked on my door during the afternoon on Tuesday January 21st. Landry and I made awkward conversation considering that the last time that I had seen him was in the restroom in Florida and I was certain that he wanted to punish me for sticking him with Dan Haren. I offered to take him to Chinatown for an early dinner and Caps game. He graciously accepted.
After a full meal at Zengo consisting of 72 hour short ribs and American Wagyu beef we headed down to the arena to catch the rest of the game. Landry indicated that he was looking for a long term deal for Wilson
and I explained that we had some top out payroll issues to address within the organization. I made it clear that as much as we love Wilson Ramos, anything in excess of 5 years was too rich for our blood. He was adamant at 8 years but I could see that he was more eager to get a deal done than to be a hard liner.
So with a few minutes left in the 3rd period, Greg and I agreed in principle to a back loaded progressive contract for 5 years at $22.5 million. Wilson Ramos was locked up through the 2018 season and it will cost us only $3 million next year. We finished the game, a win by the Capitals, and headed over to Old Ebbitt to celebrate.
After an hour at the Oyster bar, I headed back to the office. Landry was happy, Wilson was happy, but I still had one big deal to get done.
Alex Rodriguez, Prince Fielder, and many other high profile baseball players, is a little intimidating.
Boras has negotiated contacts that could (with achieved incentives) exceed 300 million dollars. He even got money for Manny Ramirez when no one on the planet could even find him. So now, I have to sit with the baseball agent of all baseball agents, and discuss Stephen Strasburg.
When negotiating a deal, the cardinal rule is that whomever speaks first loses. I went into this negotiation thinking that if I spoke at all, it would be a miracle. My argument was simple. We have a lot invested in Stras already, that we are committed to his development, but that he has not delivered the golden egg yet. He has a history of injury and a long term, big money deal is just too risky at this point. My strategy was sound.
Boras had only one point to make. In his first 70 starts, Stephen Strasburg has better numbers than Nolan Ryan had at the same place in his career. I caved. Stephen Strasburg would be a National for the next 5 years to the tune of $52 million. Another progressive deal was achieved where we only had to pay him 5.5 Million in year one, but a sixth year was made possible with a mutual option at $20 million. The contract could be bought out for 2.5 million after year five. Ouch! But worth it.
All of the remaining players were offered one year deals or the opportunity to gamble in arbitration. We offered:
Drew Storen $2.2M
Ross Detwiler $2.1M
Roger Bernadina $1.8M
Steve Lombardozzi $565K
Tyler Moore $565K
Christian Garcia $550K
Ryan Mattheus $565K
Ian Krol $500K
Taylor Jordan $575K
Matt Purke $500K
There you have it. Your 2014 Washington Nationals. And now it's off to Florida for Spring Training.
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