Missouri righthander Aaron Crow signed Wednesday—but not with the Nationals, who drafted him ninth overall. Instead, he agreed to a deal with the Fort Worth Cats of the independent American Association, and he’ll join the club if he doesn’t agree to terms with Washington before Friday’s 11:59 EDT deadline.
The signing doesn’t change either side’s leverage, as the deadline still applies. It does mean that Crow won’t return to Missouri, where he tied for the NCAA Division I lead with 13 victories and spun a 43-inning scoreless streak this spring. It also won’t allow the Nationals to play the "We’re not sure how serious he was about pro ball" card if Crow doesn’t sign with them.
Randy Hendricks, one of Crow’s agents, said that Crow has nothing left to prove in college and the decision to turn pro was made when he was drafted.
"The Nationals have consistently maintained that there is a system and Aaron has to fit within the slotting system unilaterally created by the owners," Hendricks said. "Our position is that Aaron is a premier pitcher and should be compensated accordingly. We are so far apart that [Nationals GM] Jim Bowden told me yesterday that there was no reason to talk any more. Aaron will never sign for slot money, period."
MLB’s slot recommendation for the ninth overall pick is an estimated $2.15 million. Since the 2004 draft, the first tier of college pitchers typically have received major league deals. Ten college pitchers in the 2004-07 drafts landed big league contracts, with an average bonus of $3.3 million and an average guarantee of $5.1 million.
Two of those 10, Luke Hochevar (Royals) and Max Scherzer (Diamondbacks), pitched with Fort Worth before turning pro.
In other draft/independent league news, Miami first baseman Yonder Alonso told John Fay, our Reds correspondent and a writer for the Cincinnati Enquirer, that he could be headed to indy ball if he can’t work out a deal with the Reds.
Alonso’s buddy and workout partner Alex Rodriguez has offered to let him live with him in New York and play in the independent Atlantic League next season while he awaits re-entry into the 2009 draft. Selected seventh overall, Alonso reportedly wants a big league deal worth $7 million.
When Fay asked him what would happen if the Reds offered him a $3 million major league contract, Alonso replied, "You’ll be writing a story about me going to the independent league."
(For the rest of Fay’s blog item, click here.)
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