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To Sign Or Not To Sign
That Is The Question

When is it time to start signing and stop holding out? Jason Wood examines what happens when "high profile" draft picks hold out. Who's to blame? Major League Baseball, the players, or the agents? What happens to the little boy that would play the game for free?

To see that times are changing in professional sports, one needs to look no further than the baseball amateur draft. For many years, the purpose of the draft was to create a competitive balance among professional teams. To evenly distribute the talent each draft produced. But today, Major League Baseball seeks to play Robin Hood, and to somehow prevent the rich from getting richer and the poor from getting poorer.

Each June teams dive into their pocketbooks and hope that years of scouting players will pay off and supply them with future Major Leaguer's. The order in which a player was drafted was usually directly related to their talent compared to others in the draft.

But as baseball continually develops, so does our English language. Thus came the dreaded word that scouts and teams hate to hear signability. With that term at the forefront of recent drafts, players are no longer picked according to their level of talent. They are picked because they are first, signable, second, good.

Here develops the Robin Hood theme. As premium talent falls farther in the draft, the only teams able to sign those players are teams with significant amount revenue. And so the good get better and the bad get worse, thus partially explaining the disparity in Major League Baseball.

Where am I going with this you ask? I am going to explain both sides of the coin in a situation still unresolved. Matt Harrington, a right-handed high school pitcher from Palmdale, California and the Rockies first round pick in the June draft, has yet to sign a contract. Both the Harrington family, who is advised by agent Tommy Tanzer, and the Rockies seem to be reluctant to budge from their stances on the contract Harrington should receive. The Rockies have offered nearly double what the seventh player in last years draft received, but Tanzer and the Harrington family feel Matt was the best pick in this years draft and should be paid accordingly. Does that suggest they are seeking more than the $5.3 million that the Chicago White Sox gave Stanford outfielder Joe Borchard as a signing bonus?

While I agree Harrington was one of the premium picks in the recent draft and should be paid accordingly, how much money is enough? Not only has he lost a year in the Rockies' farm system due to the holdout, he has also strained the relations between himself and team officials. Also lost is any participation in the Rockies' Instructional League.

I am in no way suggesting the holdout is the fault of Harrington or his adviser. I know how difficult teams can be to deal with. In fact, I am familiar with the deceit and miscommunication Tommy Tanzer is accusing the Rockies of in their quest to come to terms with Harrington. What is being missed here is the entire reason baseball is meant to be played. It is fun! To throw a 90 mile per hour fastball or to hit a ball coming that fast that moves from side to side is the one hardest thing in sports to do. But the bottom line is, the game is fun! Matt, are you really having fun watching baseball from your house in Palmdale?

Your questions and comments are welcome.

Please direct them to PLAYERAGENT2000@AOL.COM.

Jason Wood is a licensed sports agent in the State of Florida.

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