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How the Clock Struck Midnight on Crow; Talks Were Rare between Nats, Agent

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), August 17, 2008 | Go to article overview

How the Clock Struck Midnight on Crow; Talks Were Rare between Nats, Agent


Byline: Mark Zuckerman, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Whittled down to its core, the disparity in contract terms between the Washington Nationals and Aaron Crow when the clock struck midnight Saturday was $500,000.

Crow, the ninth overall pick in this summer's draft, wanted a $4 million signing bonus. The Nationals offered $3.5 million and the two sides couldn't get any closer before baseball's mandated deadline passed.

However, the philosophical gap between Washington and the former University of Missouri pitcher was wider. And for that reason Crow pitched for the Fort Worth Cats of the independent American Association on Saturday while the Nationals seethed over the time, money and energy wasted over the last year to wind up with no first-round pick in uniform.

We have no regrets over taking him, general manager Jim Bowden said. We only regret that we weren't able to sign him.

A nearly 30-minute group interview with Bowden on Saturday at Nationals Park, combined with some e-mailed responses from Randy Hendricks (one of Crow's agents), revealed negotiations proved unproductive from the start so they had little chance of getting finalized.

Informal discussions between the two began before the June 5 draft, with Hendricks telling the Nationals Crow

sought a major league contract and a signing bonus well above baseball's recommended $2.1 million slot.

Bowden wasn't fazed, because most every top prospect had similar predraft demands. He assumed the price would decline through back-and-forth negotiations.

But talks between the two sides were scarce. The Nationals initially offered $2.1 million and a minor league contract, then waited for a response. Hendricks didn't submit his first monetary counteroffer until Aug. 12, according to Bowden. The initial asking price: $9 million and a major league contract, more than any player in this year's draft received.

Had we known that Aaron Crow's number was $9 million, we would have passed on the player, Bowden said. We don't have it in the budget to pay that kind of money.

Hendricks didn't respond to an e-mail questioning why his side waited more than two months to submit its first offer, but he acknowledged that the asking price fell considerably in the final hour Friday night.

Over those last few days, the Nationals tweaked their offer up to $2.2 million and for the first time in franchise history offered a major league contract to a draft pick. Still no response from Crow's team.

At about 6:30 p.m. Friday, the Nationals withdrew the major league contract offer because they only would have agreed to that had Crow taken an MRI on his shoulder and elbow.

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