Graves deal includes limited no-trade clause
By Tony Jackson
Post staff reporter
The Reds called a news conference Monday to announce the signing of Danny Graves, an announcement that considering it had been made Friday without a news conference was about as fresh as whatever is under that mysterious foil wrapper in your refrigerator.
While not part of the announcement, some details of the contract have surfaced beyond the widely reported salaries of $5 million in 2003, $6 million in 2004 and $6.25 million in 2005. The deal contains a limited no-trade clause in which Graves can "blacklist" up to four teams to which he doesn't want to be traded. If he is traded, an escalator clause would add $500,000 to his salary that year and any subsequent years remaining on the contract.
Another escalator clause based on innings pitched would apply anywhere from $100,000 to $400,000, in $100,000 increments, to the buyout of the contract's mutual option for 2006. Graves was in his final winter of arbitration eligibility and could have become a free agent after the 2003 season if he hadn't signed the three-year, $17.25 million deal.
In fact, he had no interest in becoming anything of the kind, which clearly had something to do with the fact this winter's free-agent market is the softest in years.
"There were so many factors that went into our thought process, and that would be one of them," said Alan Nero, one of Graves' agents. "There was also the idea that he is becoming a starting pitcher, and there is some risk involved in that as well. It just got to the point where this made so much sense for everyone. Danny has been very clear from the get-go that he wants to stay in Cincinnati. When your client has those feelings, you ought to get something done."
Graves is a virtual lock for the rotation, where he will join Paul Wilson, Jimmy Haynes, Ryan Dempster and whoever emerges from a spring training free-for-all for the fifth spot.