By Will Lingo
April 15, 2002
Righthander Matt Harrington’s long and winding road has led back to California, but still not to Organized Baseball.
Harrington, who turned down a bonus offer of at least $3.75 million as a first-round pick of the Rockies in 2000, signed a contract with the Long Beach Breakers of the independent Western League. The Breakers obtained his rights from the Northern League’s St. Paul Saints for a player to be named.
The Padres still hold Harrington’s rights in Organized Baseball, after making him a second-round pick last June. They have until a week before this year’s draft on June 4 to sign Harrington. The Breakers don’t open their season until May 27.
Harrington was the top high school pitcher in the 2000 draft class coming out of Palmdale (Calif.) High, but he fell to the Rockies with the seventh overall pick because of teams’ worries about his bonus demands. After months of contentious negotiations, he did not sign with the Rockies and went back into the draft pool last year.
He went to the Northern League to showcase his talent, but shoulder and control problems led to a 9.47 ERA in 18 innings with St. Paul. The Padres took him in the second round and took a wait-and-see attitude.
Harrington changed agents in September, picking Scott Boras to replace Tommy Tanzer, and Boras has worked to get Harrington healthy and back to his high school form, when he threw in the mid-90s.
Long Beach Breakers general manager Jerry Schoenfeld said Harrington wanted to play closer to home and in warmer weather.
“We wanted him near our office, frankly speaking,” Boras told the Daily News of Los Angeles. Boras’ office is in Newport Beach.
Boras said Harrington is throwing 93 mph and is healthy and in good shape. He said he is still negotiating with the Padres and the sides have exchanged bonus figures.
Padres general manager Kevin Towers said Harrington won’t get a contract like that of Xavier Nady, who was a second-round pick in 2000, though Boras has said Harrington is comparable. Nady signed a major league contract worth a guaranteed $2.95 million.
“He’s not that kind of player,” Towers said.