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More On Perez

The Washington Nationals thought they were getting a pitcher. Instead, they've gotten a problem. This morning Manager Manny Acta said that the organization has yet to make contact with absent pitcher Odalis Perez, who is holding out for a better contract. Perez's holdout now leaves the sides locked into a chicken game.

Said Acta: "He's either going to report with enough time or not report at all."

Here are the things the Nats -- and Perez -- must resolve.

First of all, the mandatory report date, per arrangements in the current collective bargaining agreement, is Feb. 22. With one exception. For players who will be competing in the World Baseball Classic, the mandatory report date is Feb. 17 -- today. Perez said that he plans to represent the Dominican Republic in the WBC, and that potentially opens the door for Perez to be in breach of contract by day's end.

But that brings up the second issue.

The Nationals are insisting that Perez's contract has been approved, signed and sealed. Perez might have grounds to argue otherwise, though, because his contract does not yet appear in the database of MLBPA-approved contracts. Perez wants to improve on the non-guaranteed minor league deal he signed with Washington almost two weeks ago, and the first way to do that is to argue against the validity of his current deal.

"Well, I can't control whatever he feels or thinks, and that is something that is out of my hands," Acta said. "It's already been public that he's under contract, and we are expecting him to honor his contract."

For the moment, the Nationals are going ahead without the 31-year-old lefty, last year's Opening Day starter. Without Perez in the mix for one of the last two starting rotation spots, the Nationals will pick from a group that includes Jordan Zimmermann, Collin Balester and Shawn Hill. They would also have the option of signing another veteran.

"I still think that our rotation is better than what it was the last few years," Acta said. "I'm happy with our first three guys, and I'm happy with the choices I have for the back end of our rotation. If a veteran comes in it would always be welcome, as long as it's going to help."

Some additional notes.

* Matt Chico threw in the bullpen this morning, just a light 30-pitch workout.

* Among the position players who I've spotted at the ballpark already this morning: Cristian Guzman and Wily Mo Pena.

* So far, no sign of Adam Dunn. Same for Ryan Zimmerman, who in previous years has sometimes arrived early for camp.

* There is a certain Who's-On-The-Roster, Who's-Not category of questioning that is the foundation of spring training journalism. Acta doesn't much appreciate these queries, but he's given at least a few hints. He already considers three guys to be locks for the rotation, but we've been over that. Today, he admitted that much of the lineup is fluid -- except for the No. 3 and No. 4 spots. Ryan Zimmerman, Adam Dunn. And then there's the bullpen, where Acta suggested that two alone have strangleholds on jobs. Saul Rivera, then Joel Hanrahan.

By Chico Harlan  |  February 17, 2009; 9:41 AM ET
 
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Next: So Far, Still No Zim

Comments

To summarize:
-Perez contract may not exist, as it is not in the database of MLBPA-approved contracts;
-Perez agrees to terms, but seemingly at the last minute, doesn't like the deal;
-Pitching options are available (internal and external)

Where is the agent for Perez in all this, and why wasn't the club notified by the agent? Why is the contract not in the database? And why is Perez overstating his value in a down market (with oversupply)?

And why does off-the-field nonsense continue with the Nationals?

Posted by: joemktg1 | February 17, 2009 10:04 AM | Report abuse

Me thinks OP will soon become an afterthought. If he had any real confidence in his ability to make the team, he'd just show up and prove it. I think he fears the young guns advancing and realizes he is past his prime and sliding. I say, thanks for 08, give him his release and wish him well. See ya.

Posted by: cokedispatch | February 17, 2009 10:09 AM | Report abuse

I'm in a database, therefore I am.

Descartes it ain't.

Posted by: nunof1 | February 17, 2009 10:12 AM | Report abuse

"And why does off-the-field nonsense continue with the Nationals?"

That is not the question. You should be asking why this sorry excuse for a team has off-field nonsense like this instead of ARod/Yankees level off-field nonsense.

Unexceptable. Even their off-field nonsense is AAAA. I'm canceling my season tickets until the Lerners pony up for some major-league off-field nonsense!

Posted by: nunof1 | February 17, 2009 10:17 AM | Report abuse

Funny. "Unexceptable," if it were a word, might mean the exact opposite of "unacceptable," making it impossibly confusing to use either one.

Adam Dunn's 40 HRs per season -- unexceptable!

Nick Johnson's perennial injuries -- unacceptable!

I must be really bored today.


Posted by: ArlingtonNatsFan1 | February 17, 2009 10:28 AM | Report abuse

Since Perez is a hack pitcher, maybe he hacked into the MLB data base and voided his contract?

Posted by: EdDC | February 17, 2009 10:30 AM | Report abuse

This stinks.


Let's count the times and ways I have that as my response this season.


Hello NJ'ers. It has been a short, warm winter but still I have missed kvetching with you in this forum. There were many times that I nearly broke from my hibernation to chime in, but ultimately someone else posted something else close enough to my thoughts that I elected keep lurking and working.

I have just re-upped my contract to be a Nats fan for 'o9 .. indeed wearing my curly-W hat around yesterday to let the world know that I root for a losing team.

I'll be mostly lurking this season, posting when work is slow, and humorous when I can. See you at the ballpark.

Mr. Harlan: Take the haters with a dash of salt. I really like your writing. The sports part of it you are learning well. Keep on going and who knows, maybe one day you'll have a media center in a fancy new ballpark named after you.

Posted by: ihatewalks | February 17, 2009 10:35 AM | Report abuse

I won't defend Odalis's methods, nor will I nominate him for the Humanitarian of the Year award, but I think he has a point. He did well enough for us last year, he probably at least deserves a guaranteed contract. It seems like the Nats were trying to lowball an insurance policy. Somebody from the opening day rotation is going to get hurt, and one of the kids with options could get called up then.

Posted by: psubman | February 17, 2009 10:45 AM | Report abuse

Welcome back, IHW, and I second your comments to Chico.

Also, y'all may want to check out this post on the Insider.

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/baseball-insider/2009/02/the_scene_in_tampa.html#comments

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | February 17, 2009 10:55 AM | Report abuse

"He did well enough for us last year, he probably at least deserves a guaranteed contract."

Well then he should have held out for one in the first place, instead of agreeing to (and maybe even signing) the contract he did and now trying to back out of it.

Posted by: nunof1 | February 17, 2009 10:57 AM | Report abuse

Scooter - to answer your question from the previous post - I don't give one lick about how much money Baleter gets via arbitration, but when we refer to arbitration clock the real kicker is how soon he's eligible for FA, which is tied to when he is arbitration eligible.

Long story short, unless we sent Balester to AAA for the whole year he is 6 seasons from FA, so unless he seriously plays himself out of a job and NEEDS to go to AAA to fix himself, then I say he is a lock for the rotation because either way he is 6 years from potentially leaving us so we should use him while he's ours.

Af for Perez, seems he signed and offer sheet and now wants a better deal. After the Furcal blowup between ATL and LAD I wonder if any team will even talk to Perez, it is NOT in the clubs interest to have offer sheets not viewed as binding agreements and Perez is no Furcal so why risk long term damage to your organization's bargaining power for a guy who's pretty unlikely to make ANY 25 man roster this year.

Posted by: estuartj | February 17, 2009 11:03 AM | Report abuse

The only possible explanation - Odalis reads Baseball Insider. Boswell noted a week or so ago that OP gets $850k and Randy Wolf asks for $9 mil (later signs for $5) despite being the same guy.
Geezer

Posted by: utec | February 17, 2009 11:05 AM | Report abuse

"Today, he admitted that much of the lineup is fluid -- except for the No. 3 and No. 4 spots. Ryan Zimmerman, Adam Dunn."

I'm not sure whether I like the decision to bat Dunn 4th. Manny's a big numbers guy, so I would've thought he would at least consider the possibility of putting him somewhere else in the order. I think estuartj pointed out in a previous post that his career splits show he is best when batting 2nd in the order (.277/.389/.554). It doesn't appear to be just an early-in-his-career thing, either. As recently as '06, he had a solid number (144) of PA's in the 2nd spot and hit .317/.417/.593, which was way above his total for the season (.234/.365/.490). Given that, I'd like to see what this lineup can do:

Guzman SS (S)
Dunn LF (L)
Zimmerman 3B (R)
Johnson 1B (L)
Dukes RF (R)
Milledge CF (R)
Flores C (R)
Hernandez 2B (S)

The odd man out would be Willingham, but he'd get the best return on a trade anyway. That would leave Harris and Kearns on the bench as backup OF's in case Nick goes down and we have slide Dunn to 1B.

Posted by: WMPete | February 17, 2009 11:19 AM | Report abuse

I have never proposed batting Dunn anywhere but 4th, he does have significant LvsR splits so I see Willingham getting some at bats against lefties. I'm hopeful that Manny will be more willing to move Zimmerman to the 5 slot to maximize his RBI potential and put NJ at #3 behind Dukes to emphasize OBP in the front of the line-up. How would you like to be a opposing pitcher/manager and having to face 3 .400ish obp guys in the first 5 batters? I think Guz starts the season leading-off, but BobL and a few others have poinnted out (and I wholeheartedly agree) that Milledge should be leading-off if he can improve his walk rate and Guzman being a HIT hitter would be more effective batting 6 or 7 when you want contact more than walks with the bottom of the order coming up. So here is my projected opening day line-up;

1. Guzman
2. Dukes
3. Zimmerman
4. Dunn
5. Johnson
6. Milledge
7. Flores
8. Belliard
9. Olsen

And here is May 1st;
1. Milledge (CF)
2. Dukes (RF)
3. Johnson (1B)
4. Dunn (LF)
5. Zimmerman (3B)
6. Guzman (SS)
7. Flores (CA)
8. Hernandez (2B)
9. Zimmermann (SP)

Posted by: estuartj | February 17, 2009 11:29 AM | Report abuse

I don't see the logic in batting Dunn 2nd. He's by far the biggest bat in the lineup, and he can protect Zimmerman at #3.

Posted by: BrantAlyea | February 17, 2009 11:35 AM | Report abuse

SoCH has a great write-up at firejimbowden.com on what would happen if Kearns is tearing things up coming out of ST. I don't see how he breaks the regular line-up over Milledge & Dukes, but if he's "back" then Willingham is truly expendable. I still like trading him to ARI to get Rauch back so JimBow would have gotten Olsen for half a season of Rauch (and two C prospects).

Also I'm very curious to see if anything will come of the "sign and trade to avoid compensation" MLB is touting. I'm betting its leverage to force guys like Cabrera, Hudson and Reyes to sign 1 year deal or risk not having any say in who they play for in '09, allowing teams like the Nats to swoop in a grab Hudson for 1 year and hopefully "flip" them for 2 picks after the season.

Posted by: estuartj | February 17, 2009 11:44 AM | Report abuse

@BrantAlyea--By that logic, we should've put Soriano at 4 to protect Zimmerman, since he was by far the biggest bat in the lineup that year.

I wasn't trying to suggest that batting Dunn 2nd was the long term answer, but the numbers show that over his career he is a better hitter in the 2 spot than anywhere else in the lineup. Since there's that big of a discrepancy (20 BA points), it makes sense to try him out in that spot. It could be luck, but it could also be that he just has a different mindset/approach when he bats second in the order, whether consciously or unconsciously. This is as opposed to a guy like Nick Johnson, who bats about the same anywhere in the order.

Posted by: WMPete | February 17, 2009 12:08 PM | Report abuse

estuartj, I suspect we agree on the most important point: I'd be pretty surprised if Collin Balester didn't make the rotation, and very surprised if he weren't on the 25-man roster. I just think in terms of getting him to be the best possible pitcher for the big squad -- even if that involves a detour to the bushes -- rather than in terms of squeezing some utility out of him in a brief 6-year window. Especially when I have no reason to presume he'll leave at that point. You know?

As to the batting order, I love Dunn at #4. One of his two skills is power, so cleanup is a nice place for him. Also, the 4th batter leads off the second-most innings over a season, so he'll also get plenty of chances to get on base for others to bat behind him.

Oh, and this was beautiful: "Unexceptable. Even their off-field nonsense is AAAA. I'm canceling my season tickets until the Lerners pony up for some major-league off-field nonsense!"

Posted by: Scooter_ | February 17, 2009 12:16 PM | Report abuse

The thing that gets me about this Odalis Perez business is that for the first time it feels like Nats are in a position of relative strength. As in, "Meh. I think we'll be fine without you. Thanks for playing. Buh-bye."

They might not say that, but I think they could if they wanted to. And that's a huge difference this year. A good difference.

Posted by: NatsNut | February 17, 2009 12:23 PM | Report abuse

Well said, NatsNut. Well said indeed.

Posted by: Scooter_ | February 17, 2009 12:26 PM | Report abuse

Scooter, we probably do agree for the most part in terms of what would it take to have Balester start the season in AAA.

My big point is that if the clock is running on a guy it's better to have him working in the bigs, UNLESS there is something specific he needs to work on that would be best done in the safer and more controlled environment of the minor leagues (or of course he just plain stinks up the joint).

Posted by: estuartj | February 17, 2009 12:27 PM | Report abuse

NatsNut, I agree. I think it's a bit of a shame that Odalis didn't get a litle more credit for what he did last year, but he made the deal, and I think he looks like a jerk trying to welch on it.

Posted by: Section406 | February 17, 2009 12:29 PM | Report abuse

It's pretty obvious what is going on with Perez:

Both Perez and the club signed a term sheet. That binds both parties to the material terms of the contract -- including salary and guarantees (or lack thereof).

A final contract has not yet been executed. Nevertheless, Perez is still bound by the term sheet, as a legal matter.

If Perez refuses to show up and play, he is in breach. I doubt there are any liquidated damages set forth, in which case the club has little recourse. It cannot force Perez to come and pitch. Perez, however, would not be able to play for any other team (since the Nats would have a legal claim against the other team).

Given Perez' statements, the Nats already have the legal ability to void their agreement with Perez, though they would likely wait until he fails to show up today to strengthen their position. But Perez probably wants them to do just that -- since that would allow him to negotiate a new deal with another team.

In my view, the Nats shouldn't help this punk out. They should continue to insist, indefinitely, that Perez honor his contract, and thus lock him out of baseball unless he plays for the Nats. Voiding the contract, or admitting him to the team and then releasing him for being a punk, will just send a signal to other players that they can ignore a signed term sheet whenever it suits them.

Posted by: kjm1971 | February 17, 2009 12:30 PM | Report abuse

"unexceptable" may be the greatest word ever discovered.

if dunn is hitting 4th, and zimmerman 3rd, i like dukes hitting 2nd. leadoff with milledge. guzman can swing away all he wants batting 7th/8th.

beyond that i have no idea if willingham or kearns or nick johnson are in there but they can all hit 5th.

flores can hit 6th.

sacrifice bunts and sacrifice flies work together just fine with a little pop out of the leadoff spot. which is why i like milledge leading off and guz/hernandez at the bottom.

i have zero statistical analysis to back this up.

Posted by: longterm | February 17, 2009 12:37 PM | Report abuse

>"unexceptable" may be the greatest word ever discovered.

You misunderestimate it.

Posted by: nunof1 | February 17, 2009 12:43 PM | Report abuse

kjm, how does that work in the context of a non-guaranteed minor league contract? To retain his rights, would we have to assign him to say AAA, thus tying up a roster spot there? If we force him to ST, he will just stink the joint up intentionally until he gets released. He must have a verbal offer from another club....

Posted by: goexpos2 | February 17, 2009 12:45 PM | Report abuse

Colin Balester has 90 days of major league service. If he were to stay in AAA until mid August, I think his service time would be roughly the equivalent of a guy called up in mid May. I think that usually misses the early to arbitration "Super 2"s status, but perhaps Brian or someone could clear that up.

Basically, with Balester, if he pitches well and deserves to make the rotation at the start of the year, he'll make the rotation. If he is beat out, then it opens the possibility of others getting a call up first (say Zimmermann in mid-May). But it takes someone to beat him out. Without Odalis, I don't see two guys likely to do that.

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | February 17, 2009 12:50 PM | Report abuse

goexpos, It depends on what's in the term sheet. It may very well obligate us to offer him a AAA roster spot in order to keep the contract going. I'm assuming he is worth stashing in AAA for at least a month or so, to see how the beginning of the season plays out. And he could pitch himself onto the MLB roster -- he'll have to try to showcase himself to other clubs.

If we have to release him for morale reasons then I suppose we have to do so. But I'd rather not give him what he wants now.

Posted by: kjm1971 | February 17, 2009 1:12 PM | Report abuse

To continue, based on what he is saying I don't think he will come to ST (or AAA regular season) anyway. So in a way it could turn into something of a wasted AAA roster spot, as you note -- unless the term sheet and other related docs allow us to demote him to another level. I suspect that there will be a number of roster options we can pursue, and I'd try to explore them if I were the Nats.

Posted by: kjm1971 | February 17, 2009 1:15 PM | Report abuse

Does someone want to look up exactly what the Nats threatened Soriano with if he refused to play? It would be somewhat different since this would be done at the AAA level, but I assume we would assign him to SYR and then place him on the inactive list (or something like it) till the terms of the contract expire.

Now if the contract allows him to void it after March 30, as many minor league deal do, would he then be free to look at other options or by failing to live up to his portion of the contract till March 30 lock him into the club for the year (ie until he reports the rest of the term of the contract are null)?

Posted by: estuartj | February 17, 2009 1:19 PM | Report abuse

@jca - Balester might even qualify as a Super Two if you kept him off of the 25-man until mid-August. It's bascially not worth counting days towards arbitration on Balester, just assume he'll have his first arbitration year after the 2011 season. Even if Balester isn't in the starting rotation in April, the odds are pretty high that he'll be among the first ones (if not the first) to be called up when there is an injury/struggle in the starting five. And that is highly likely to happen long before August.

Posted by: Brian_ | February 17, 2009 1:21 PM | Report abuse

@kjm - If Perez were not to show up and the Nationals retained his rights, they can place him on the restricted list in the minor leagues and not waste a spot.

Posted by: Brian_ | February 17, 2009 1:22 PM | Report abuse

Brian, am I correct in Balester's arbitration year being tied to his FA year? IE if he is up enough to hit arbitration after '11 that he's first eligible for FA after '14?

Posted by: estuartj | February 17, 2009 1:32 PM | Report abuse

@estuartj - Correct.

His free agent service time is based on six years of service time. A "year" of MLB service time is 172 days. Balester has roughly 90 days of service time right now. If he were to be on a major league roster from here out, he would achieve 6 service years during the 2014 season.

If he spends roughly 90 days in the minor leagues between now and then, his free agency year could be pushed off until 2015.

Posted by: Brian_ | February 17, 2009 1:41 PM | Report abuse

If it happened after they signed the terms sheet, that would be tampering, a serious no-no.
No?
**********
He must have a verbal offer from another club....
Posted by: goexpos2 | February 17, 2009 12:45 PM

Posted by: CEvansJr | February 17, 2009 1:52 PM | Report abuse

"Unexceptable. Even their off-field nonsense is AAAA. I'm canceling my season tickets until the Lerners pony up for some major-league off-field nonsense!"

Posted by: Scooter_ | February 17, 2009

Yes, but look at it from the owners' perspective. They lost over 100 games last year. Would you even want to pay Odalis Perez $850,000? They do need left handed starting pitching ... perhaps a trade is in the works involving Perez and an outfielder like Willingham who is now likely expendable. Its pretty clear that Dukes and Millege are going to play. Kearns and Kasto (a left handed hitter) to back them up?

Posted by: periculum | February 17, 2009 1:57 PM | Report abuse

Bran - and I hate to beat a dead horse - does that 90 days have to be between now and his arbitration day or if he spends 30 days in the minors in each of '09, '10 and '12 would his FA date go back to '15, even though he had already gone through Arbitration starting in '11?

Posted by: estuartj | February 17, 2009 1:57 PM | Report abuse

It's 90 days between now and 2014. If he spends ~90 days off the 25-man, it is delayed until after the 2015 season.

(keep in mind, I'm using 90 days as a rough estimate, it's somewhere between 85-95 days ... I have not counted)

Posted by: Brian_ | February 17, 2009 2:07 PM | Report abuse

Not sure what happened to the formatting there ... what it should say is

It's 90 days between now and 2014. If he spends more than ~90 days off the 25-man between 2009-2014, it is delayed until after the 2015 season.

(keep in mind, I'm using 90 days as a rough estimate, it's somewhere between 85-95 days ... I have not counted)

Posted by: Brian_ | February 17, 2009 2:09 PM | Report abuse

perhaps a trade is in the works involving Perez and an outfielder like Willingham who is now likely expendable.

Posted by: periculum | February 17, 2009 1:57 PM

Though I do agree that a trade involving Willingham might be in the works, I don't see why a team would want to trade actual players for Perez when they could've just signed him for a few more dollars than the Nats did. The Nats signed Perez as a fall back plan in case the younger arms need more time in the minors. If he doesn't show up, they'll just pick up some other veteran off the discard pile to take his place. It's just smart business by the Nats in a rough economy.

Posted by: WMPete | February 17, 2009 2:17 PM | Report abuse

Also, FA can't be traded until 6/15 w/o their consent, and it doesn't look like the sides are talking right now.

Posted by: estuartj | February 17, 2009 2:22 PM | Report abuse

new post, no zim.

Posted by: estuartj | February 17, 2009 2:34 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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