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Bowden: Pick Up The Phone, Odalis

The Nationals have two simple requests for absent pitcher Odalis Perez, still holding out in the Dominican Republic.

They want him to honor his contract.

And also -- oh by the way -- they want him to pick up his telephone.

Even as the likelihood diminishes that Perez ever appears in Viera, much less makes the team, Washington is still waiting to hear from the 31-year-old left-hander before it decides the next step. Perhaps the team can cut him, attempt to suspend him, or even simply hold him hostage, claiming a valid contract.

"He has not returned my calls, he has not returned Manny's calls, he has not returned his agents calls. So, we're waiting to hear back from him," General Manager Jim Bowden said today.

Today is baseball's mandatory reporting date for all players, but the Nationals still have not decided whether to hold Perez accountable for his absence.

"We're looking at all of our options," Bowden said. "We're taking the position obviously that we have an agreement with the player and we're expecting the player to honor the agreement. But we'd like to talk to him first, so we're going to wait until he calls us back and then we'll address the other options at that point."

In February 2008, Perez began his tenure with the Nationals by signing a non-guaranteed minor league deal, worth $850,000 if he made the club. He not only made the club, he started on Opening Day. By season's end, Perez had made 30 starts, going 7-12 with a 4.34 ERA.

He entered the offseason expecting a better contract, but the market lagged, and Perez, almost three weeks ago, again signed with the Nationals. Again, in a non-guaranteed minor-league deal.

"Look, I understand the disappointment. I've been through this before," Bowden said. "Tony Fernandez [I remember] in '95 where he signed a $500,000 deal and his normal market was $2 or $3 million and he was very upset about the contract and was unhappy. We ended up winning the division that year, and he had a lot to do with it. But I understand someone feeling disrespected. He gave us a lot of starts last year, a 2.00 ERA at home. But the fact is he agreed to the deal, and he had a chance to sign with any of the 30 teams and he made an agreement with us, and we expect him to honor it."

By Chico Harlan  |  February 22, 2009; 3:31 PM ET
 
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Comments

Look, Odalis is insurance at this point; If he doesn't report, the Nationals can 1) hold him to his agreement, and either 1a) force him to come to Viera & honor it, or 1b) let him stay home and fine him, 2) acknowledge the "failed to report" & place him on the Restricted list, 3) Trade his contract to another Team, or 4) Release him from the contract.
For the sake of both parties, option 4 may be the best overall remedy at this point. Just wash your hands & walk away.

Posted by: BinM | February 22, 2009 3:46 PM | Report abuse

Still don't think their agreement was binding.

See: Furcal, Rafael ss, Atlanta Braves---errr, Los Angeles Dodgers.

Posted by: AnonymousSources | February 22, 2009 3:58 PM | Report abuse

@AnonSource:
If the agreement isn't binding (per the CBA), then no-harm, no-foul; Odalis is a free agent & both sides move on. The question arises as to why nobody is (reportedly) returning phone calls at this point?

Posted by: BinM | February 22, 2009 4:44 PM | Report abuse

The bottom line remains - Odalis was an insurance policy against the failure of one (or more) of the projected starters to make the April rotation. There are still 16 (or more) possible starting pitchers in camp currently - Let's just cut bait with this & move along.

Posted by: BinM | February 22, 2009 5:21 PM | Report abuse

Summarizing my pro and con thoughts about the Nats right now .. the pro:

- Young players further developing this year
- A stronger roster top to bottom
- A better coaching staff
- Stan Kasten still pursuing The Plan

the con:

Too many high profile mistakes such as
- Smiley signing
- Back rent controversy
- Crow non-signing
- poor training and medical programs
- weak 2008 free agency signings

I've been a strong and forgiving supporter of Bowden, and he may not be responsible for these mistakes but it seems reasonable that he be held accountable for them. Time is running out for results. Something has to balance out the balance sheet. Winning would be good, so would any number of other positive indicators such as improvement in the farm system, continued maturation of the major league players, and better conditioned athletes.

For his sake, I hope we get to see some results soon.


Posted by: natbiscuit | February 22, 2009 5:29 PM | Report abuse

@natbiscuit:
Of the five "cons" you mention, only two rest directly on Bowden's lap - the Gonzalez signing & the 2008 FA class. The other three are solely on the Lerner's, or shared with others in the FO.
Not that I want to look like either an apologist for JimBow, or a Blaster against the Lerner's - just want to set the record straight.

Posted by: BinM | February 22, 2009 5:47 PM | Report abuse

I (respectfully) don't understand why so many want to blame Jim Bowden for Smiley-gate. The Nationals asked MLB to verify his age/background and they gave the Nationals (and Yankees and Rangers) their official okey-dokey.

If we want to place blame, shouldn't we point a finger at Stan Kasten? He was the Braves president when Rafael Furcal signed with Atlanta, claiming to be two years younger than he actually was. Smiley is the 2nd Dominican boo-boo under his watch.

Regarding free agency, I'm not sure who else Jim should have signed. Remember, he was attacked for his quanity (and not quality) signings in 2008. This year, he went for quality, and he's still getting in trouble.

I think Daniel Cabrera (if healthy) and Dunn will make the Nats a far better team in 2009.

Posted by: rushfari | February 22, 2009 6:08 PM | Report abuse

I agree with Anon aobve in that Odalis may not be bound to any contract at this point.

Not sure what he gave his agent the go-ahead to sign on his behalf, but if it is a term sheet, that is not a contract only a agreement to agree on a contract, and, assuming that it was an actual contract, then if he did not sign the personal services contract it may not be binding -- his go-ahead to his agent to sign on his behalf may not be adequate without some kind of formal power of attorney (DR law may even be in play, who knows). The Nats may be exposing themselves to claims by Perez that he is being damaged by the club.

But who cares, the Nats should just guarantee the money and get him in camp (a lefty out of the pen's worth $850K and he did put up 30 starts, very many of them decent, last year) OR just release him and move on. But, if the guy won't talk to the Nats, it's hard to do much right now.

Posted by: dfh123 | February 22, 2009 6:57 PM | Report abuse

@natbiscuit:

... one of your 'pros' suggested: "Stan Kasten still pursuing The Plan"

... of the rest of your 'pros', I have some agreement and not much confusion. (I'm still cogitating over the 'cons'.) But at this point - ST at the start of '09 - I'm getting a bit fuzzy about what exactly Stan's Plan was or is. Can you or anyone else, explain it succinctly once more? Thanx.

Posted by: natscanreduxit | February 22, 2009 7:31 PM | Report abuse

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