The $2.5-million signing bonus the St. Louis Cardinals gave Florida high school pitcher Richard Ankiel was the latest economic blow to the amateur draft and certainly will force the Angels to raise their signing ante for their top pick, UCLA infielder Troy Glaus, the third player chosen in the June draft.
Ankiel was not picked until the second round, the 72nd player overall. The $2.5 million is a record for a player under the control of one team. Travis Lee and Matt White received $10 million and $10.2 million, respectively, last year, and John Patterson and Bobby Seay also exceeded $2.5 million, but they had all been declared free agents because of rule violations by the clubs that drafted them.
Ankiel would have gone in the first round but clubs shied away from aggressive agent Scott Boras and the contention of Ankiel's father that he wanted a bonus comparable to those of the 1996 free agents. The Cardinals, hurting for left-handed pitching prospects and concerned that Ankiel would accept a University of Miami scholarship, paid the price.
Does it have an impact on Glaus?
"Immediate," said Doug DeCinces, the former Angel and Baltimore Oriole third baseman who is advising Glaus. "We're not asking for what the No. 1 gets, but we're not going to take less than what anyone drafted behind him gets."
The Angels, according to DeCinces, made a $1.9-million offer early in negotiations and then said they wanted to wait to see what the other top five selections received.
"We said OK, but sometimes when you wait, it can get costly," DeCinces said.
"I told the Angels I had heard that the Cardinals had reached a $2.5-million agreement with Ankiel quite a while ago but that they were going to wait to announce it because they didn't want to throw the rest of the draft off. The Angels didn't believe me."
None of the top three selections has signed.
The Detroit Tigers will have to go higher than $2.5 million now to sign Rice reliever Matt Anderson, the No. 1 pick, or lose their rights if Anderson decides to forfeit his leverage and return to Rice on Tuesday to begin his senior year.
Outfielder J.D. Drew, the No. 2 pick by Philadelphia, is playing in an independent pro league, which means he can't return to Florida State. Drew seems certain to continue pursuit of a free-agent type signing bonus under Boras through legal channels.
Glaus could return to UCLA for his senior season, but that's unlikely. Classes don't begin until Sept. 25. The Angels can be expected to squeeze out from between that rock and the hard spot before then and meet the market price--escalating though it may be.
Eugene Orza, associate general counsel of the players' union, says the context in which he initially reacted to the Walt Disney Co.'s suspension of Tony Phillips for refusing inpatient counseling by calling it a "cheap shot" seems to have become muddied.
"I don't question Disney's motivation," Orza reiterated. "I didn't say the suspension itself was a cheap shot."
What he said, Orza emphasized, was that Disney's actions seemed to imply that "they care more about drug use than we do or Bud Selig does, and that's just not true and amounts to a cheap shot.
"If, in fact, that's what they were saying, it's a cheap shot."