Scherzer Holdout Seems Unlikely To End Soon
The Diamondbacks are not close to signing 2006 No. 1 draft pick Max Scherzer, and it appears negotiations with the former Missouri righthander could follow a similar path to that of other high-profile draft clients of the Scott Boras Corporation.
It won't be anything new to the Diamondbacks. The organization had to go down a similar road when it signed 2004 first-rounder Stephen Drew, who signed May 31, 2005--15 minutes before he was to reenter the draft pool.
Boras, who represents Scherzer and Drew, compares Scherzer to another of his premier pitching clients, Royals righthander Luke Hochevar, and appears to be seeking a deal similar to the $5.3 million major league deal Kansas City gave Hochevar last summer as the No. 1 overall pick. Hochevar was the 40th overall pick in 2005 (by the Dodgers) but didn't sign, played in the independent Central League and re-entered the draft.
The D-Backs have made what they consider to be a "solid offer" to Scherzer, the 11th pick overall, but it's not believed to be close to Hochevar numbers.
"Before the draft last year, we told teams we considered Max one of the top two pitchers in the draft," Boras said Friday. "We certainly felt Max and Luke were on a par with one another. In our conversations (with the Diamondbacks), they assured us they had a similar opinion."
"We certainly will continue negotiating. We expect it to work," Arizona general manager Josh Byrnes said. "We are always balancing risk with reward. Even high-profile college pitchers will show more misses than hits."
Whatever the outcome, Scherzer's lengthy negotiations are probably the last of their kind. Under terms of the new collective bargaining agreement between major league players and owners, a draftee not signed by Aug. 15 will return to the draft pool.
Boras has invited Byrnes and his staff to watch Scherzer throw this spring in California, and Byrnes said he plans to accept the offer next week, "less to see him throw, more to visit with him and get to know him," Byrnes said.
Scherzer has spent time in a throwing and conditioning program similar to the one Hochevar participated in last offseason. It paid off for Hochevar, who touched 97 mph in his first outing with Fort Worth last May, helping push him to the top of the '06 draft heap.