Diamondbacks, Drew Get Closer To Deal

By Ed Price

August 28, 2004

The Diamondbacks have made a significantly higher—and perhaps final—offer to first-round pick Stephen Drew.

According to an industry source, Arizona has offered the Florida State shortstop a major league contract, believed to be for 2005-08. The deal would give him close to the $4.79 million package Rickie Weeks got from the Brewers as 2003′s second overall pick, with the potential to earn nearly 50 percent more than Weeks’ maximum of $5.5 million.

The offer includes a signing bonus well in excess of the franchise record for a drafted player ($2 million to Corey Myers in 1999 and Mike Gosling in 2001). Drew would achieve the maximum value of the contract if he were to reach the majors for good by 2006.

Earlier in the week, it appeared that the Diamondbacks were on the verge of losing Drew, the top-rated position player in the draft who fell to 15th overall because of signability concerns. He re-enrolled at Florida State on Thursday and his first class is scheduled for Tuesday. If Drew attends a class, Arizona will lose the right to sign him.

“We’re still hopeful we can reach an agreement,” Diamondbacks scouting director Mike Rizzo said Friday without divulging specifics. “We’re continuing to keep the lines of communication open.”

A Drew family source said there are concerns with Arizona’s proposal. The two main sticking points are that more than half of the signing bonus is deferred to the years 2011 and 2013, and that the guaranteed money is less than Weeks’ and well short of what Drew made it be known he wanted at the time of the draft, believed to be at least $7 million. He may take the weekend to consider the offer.

Negotiations previously had broken down, baseball sources said, after Arizona hired former agent Jeff Moorad to replace Jerry Colangelo as its CEO. The Diamondbacks were wary of exceeding the commissioner’s office’s recommendation for fear of drawing the wrath of other owners, who must approve Moorad’s role with the team. That approval already is less than certain because owners may be wary of an ex-agent taking over a club, especially one who has angered some teams and had conflicts with agents—including a bitter rivalry with Scott Boras, who is advising Drew.

While still described as cautious, Arizona’s upper management apparently has loosened the pursestrings. General partner Ken Kendrick, who has denied a link between Moorad’s pending confirmation and the Drew negotiations, couldn’t be reached Friday.

Boras, who also represents Drew’s older brother J.D., has declined comment. He has compared Drew to another of his clients, Mark Teixeira, who signed a big league deal with the Rangers worth a guaranteed $9.5 million as the fifth overall pick in 2001.

Ed Price covers the Diamondbacks for the East Valley (Ariz.) Tribune.

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