Reds: Alonso hasn't made any demands
Big-league deals put teams in tight spot
BY JOHN FAY | JFAY@ENQUIRER.COM
MIAMI - Chris Buckley, the Reds' scouting director, has heard the talk.
The pre-draft rumor mill had Yonder Alonso a) demanding a major-league contract and b) being represented by agent Scott Boras.
Wrong and wrong.
"That was out there," Buckley said. "But it's not true."
It may come to the point where Alonso asks for a big-league contract, but the Reds were in contact with him before the draft and they've heard no such demands.
"You never know until you get into negotiations," Buckley said.
The Reds can't begin talking contract with Alonso until his college season is complete. His University of Miami team is playing in a super regional.
"We just called to say hello on draft day," Buckley said. "But two of our scouts in the area know Yonder and his father well."
That tells me the Reds have a pretty good idea that Alonso is willing to sign. Baseball is in the kid's blood. His father, Luis, coached and played the game in Cuba.
A team in the Reds' position - rebuilding with young talent - can't afford to take a player they can't sign.
That said, if Alonso will only sign a big-league deal, I'd tell him good luck with his senior season at Miami.
Giving any draftee a big-league deal hamstrings a team. Not only does it cost you too much in terms of dollars, it costs you a spot on the 40-man roster.
The Reds went the major-league contract route with David Espinosa and Dane Sardinha in 2000.
How did that work out?
Espinosa never make it to the big leagues at all. Sardinha's went 0-for-5 in two games with the Reds.
The Reds ran into the same problem with Wily Mo Pena. They didn't draft him, but they traded for him knowing that he had signed a big league contract as a 17-year-old.
Once you sign a big-league deal, you have four options. Once you're out of options, a team can't send you to the minors without putting you on waivers. Pena was out of options well before he was ready to play in the big leagues. Pena was a much more valuable commodity than Espinosa or Sardinha, so the Reds kept him around and let him develop in the big leagues - not a very wise approach.
Alonso sounds like a polished hitter. You don't have a .576 on-base percentage - as Alonso does at Miami - unless you know what you're doing. He excelled in the Cape Cod League, which uses wood bats.
So there's a chance he'll be ready in 3½ years, which is when he'd have to be in the majors if the Reds sign him to a big-league deal.
But that's not a risk I'd take.
Again, I think the Reds will get him signed for close to what his slot calls for.
One of the ongoing battles at recent owners meetings has been over commissioner Bud Selig's displeasure with teams paying well above what a player is slotted to receive.
One noteworthy case of that was last year when the Yankees gave Moeller's Andrew Brackman a $4.55 million big league contract, despite being picked 30th overall while coming off elbow surgery.
If Brackman doesn't work out, the Yankees are a team that can afford to make a $4.55 million mistake.
The Reds aren't.