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Padres sign Bozied

By John Manuel
November 13

Taggert Bozied
One down, one to go.

The Padres finally signed one of their two draft holdouts, agreeing to terms with former All-American Taggert Bozied on a minor league contract. Bozied was the Padres' third-round pick, leaving second-rounder Matt Harrington unsigned. Both are represented by agent Scott Boras.

"We pursued Taggert more aggressively recently," said Padres scouting director Bill Gayton, who did not disclose terms of the agreement except to say it was a minor league deal. "We both grew up in South Dakota, and we've established a pretty good relationship during all of this. We had good negotiations with the Boras group.

"Now we'll go into the spring, and we can concentrate on evaluating Matt and seeing what happens there."

Bozied, who is working toward completion of his business administration degree this fall, is the University of San Francisco's all-time leader in hits (287), home runs (60), extra-base hits (121), RBIs (222), runs (213), walks (116) and total bases (536). He led Division I in 1999 with 30 homers and a .936 slugging percentage, but hit 26 homers the next two years combined.

Bozied, like Harrington, was drafted higher in 2000 than in 2001. The Twins made Bozied their second-round pick (42nd overall) in 2000, but the two sides couldn't agree to terms. He returned to the Dons and hit .335-12-38 as a senior with a career-best 20 stolen bases. He was a first-team all-West Coast Conference selection as a third baseman.

Gayton earlier had said he sees Bozied more as a first baseman or corner outfielder, but said Bozied would be given a chance to play third base, a position he prefers. The Padres already are loaded at third base, from Phil Nevin to Sean Burroughs to Xavier Nady (who has had offseason Tommy John surgery) to 2001 first-round pick Jake Gautreau. The Padres worked Gautreau at second base during instructional league, and Bozied could play with Gautreau at Class A Lake Elsinore next year.

"Gautreau looked great (at second)," Gayton said. He's got great feet and moves pretty good. He surprised a lot of people, including me."

Like Harrington, Bozied already has played pro ball, playing in the Northern League, but with much more success. Playing for the Sioux Falls Canaries, the 22-year-old batted .307-6-31 with 17 doubles in 58 games.

Gayton said Harrington's negotiations remained in a kind of holding pattern, and the club didn't expect to sign him before spring. Harrington was the seventh overall selection in 2000 but spurned offers of up to $4 million from the Rockies during rancorous negotiations, and re-entered the draft for 2001.

"We'll go into the spring with the Harrington situation, and we have to make a decision about how he stacks up with the rest of the (2002) draft class," Gayton said. "We will have to decide how much he's worth, what the strengths and weaknesses of that class are.

"We've drafted a lot of hitters, and with what we have you might see our philosophy change going into next year, to balance it out a little more. Harrington fits into that. We've communicated with Scott (Boras) and Scott (Chiamparino, a Boras corporation associate), and they're pleased with Matt's progress."

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