Mark Buehrle and Jose Reyes aren't the first Marlins to be traded only one season into multi-year deals after receiving verbal assurances that they wouldn't. Carlos Delgado was also told not to worry when he expressed concerns about the team's unwillingness to grant him veto power with any trade.
And in all three instances, it appears that Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria was the one doing the comforting. A source told The Herald's Barry Jackson that was the case with Reyes, and I've heard it was the same for Buehrle.
Delgado's agent, David Sloane, said it was Loria who tried to allay his client's concerns when the Marlins were courting the free agent slugger In 2005. Sloane said that during the bidding process, Delgado had received an offer from the Texas Rangers that promised full no-trade rights while the New York Mets had agreed to provide limited no-trade protection that would allow Delgado to veto deals to a set list of specified teams. The Marlins, per team policy, refused to write binding, no-trade language into the contract.
But Loria -- anxious to sign the first baseman -- gave Delgado verbal assurances that the Marlins wouldn't trade him. Sloane remembers the moment vividly. Sloane said that after taking Delgado to lunch at Joe's Stone Crab, he and members of the Marlins front office returned to Sun Life Stadium to continue negotiating. That's when Loria looked Delgado in the eye and told him there was no need to sweat.
According to Sloane, Loria's exact words were: "If you play like you have in the past and I try to trade you, the fans will hang me in front of the stadium."
Delgado agreed to a 4-year/$52 million deal that was so heavily backloaded he received just $4 million from the Marlins in '05. Despite a banner season in which he finished sixth in the voting for NL MVP by hitting .301/.399/.582 with 33 home runs and 115 RBI, Delgado was traded to the Mets for Grant Psomas, Mike Jacobs and Yusmeiro Petit. The scaffold never went up.
"He wasn't happy about it," Sloane said.
It's probably no coincidence that in terms of total dollars, the three richest contracts awarded by the Marlins to free agents have gone to Reyes (6 years/$106 million), Buehrle (4/$58) and Delgado. With all three, the outcome proved to be the same. When it came time for salaries to escalate, the players were gone. One and done. Good riddance.
Marlins president of baseball operations Larry Beinfestacknowledged on Monday that the lastest episode may make it difficult for the team to attract free agents in the future.
"I understand there may be some disdain in the market place," Beinfest said. "We don't know until we get into those negotiations with free agents or until we show over a sustained period of time that we operate in a certain manner. It's definitely not great for the club and we're going to have to deal with it."
But Beinfest said he remains in favor of maintaining the club's policy of not giving no-trade protection.
"It's not going to be my recommendation we change our view of no-trade clauses," Beinfest said. "It was certainly not the intention, and I'll speak for Jeffrey on this, when we signed these guys, to be where we are today...."
As of Monday morning, there had been a one-week delay in the official announcement of the mega 12-player deal between the Blue Jays and the Marlins causing much angst among Jays’ supporters that maybe commissioner Bud Selig was going to step in and veto the trade in the “best interests of baseball.”
The only time that particular power of the office was used was when then-commissioner Bowie Kuhn did it in 1976 to veto a move by the A’s to dismantle his team for cash. Maverick owner Charles O. Finley attempted to sell stars Joe Rudi and Rollie Fingers to the Red Sox and Vida Blue to the Yankees.
A Chicago insurance magnate whose de facto GM was once a kid working as help in the clubhouse, who went on to gain fame as MC Hammer, Finley was upset with the new concept of free agency after losing Catfish Hunter in the first year of the modern process in the winter of 1975-76. The attempted Finley fire-sale was a protest against the system from an owner that had won three straight World Series from 1972-74 and liked doing his own thing. Kuhn stepped in and stopped the sale.
But this Jays-Marlins deal has none of those markings. Selig admitted that the Marlins received good young talent in return. The true issue here is believed to be about money, taxes and broken promises. The Marlins are believed to be sending $8 million over along with Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, Josh Johnson, John Buck and Emilio Bonifacio.
The two Marlins players that signed free agent deals prior to the 2011 season, Reyes and Buehrle, both insisted that owner Jeffrey Loria had given them verbal promises that they would not be traded. The organization’s policy is to never offer no-trade clauses, but their agents now insist that because of the trade to a Canadian-based team their clients will be losing many millions in taxes by playing in Toronto instead of Miami. The state of Florida has no personal income tax and has always been a popular state of residency for professional athletes.
The very real tax differential will be worked out and made good by someone, but the question is who will pay for it and how it affects the fine-tuning of the deal. Player agents could have known this might happen. The Marlins have had 11 players sign deals of three-plus seasons since Loria took over. Among that group, five have been traded after one season — Buehrle, Reyes, Paul LoDuca, Heath Bell and Carlos Delgado. Three others have been traded after their second season — Buck, Mike Lowell and Luis Castillo. Of course Reyes and Buehrle couldn’t have known they would be in that group, but the fact that the Marlins back-end load most contracts — the lion’s share becomes someone else’s responsibility — and the fact they refuse to include no-trade should raise enough red flags.
The repeating modus operandi, consistent throughout their history, was enough warning for David Sloane, Delgado’s long-time friend and agent, who was wined and dined by Loria and David Samson after Carlos was railroaded out of Toronto. After one season in Miami, Delgado was dealt to the Mets where he ended his career. New York State offers a significant tax bite for the wealthy. Sloane now points to his blog that outlines his Delgado strategy, how it would have helped Reyes and Buehrle.
“With the current trade between the Marlins & Blue Jays, the deal I negotiated with the Marlins in 2004 for Carlos looks even better. When the Marlins refused to include a ‘no trade’ clause (back then), I insisted that they agree to unique language that gave Carlos some protection in the event of a trade.
“The deal I negotiated contained a guarantee that if he was traded to a team that resided in a state that had a state income tax, the team he was traded to would make him whole.”
In other words he would net out the same amount he would have received had he remained in Florida, a state with NO state income tax. This had NEVER been done in MLB before. BTW, the amount Delgado saved on a contract signed EIGHT years ago is roughly $2,269,500.
“The agents for Jose’ Reyes (Peter Greenberg, now part of Legacy Group), Mark Buehrle (CAA Jeff Berry), Josh Johnson (Sosnick/Cobbe), Emilio Bonifacio (Paul Kinzer who was recently fired from Wasserman Sports), John Buck (Aces) didn’t protect their clients as well as I protected Delgado. They will literally pay the price for being represented by agents who do a better job of recruiting Players than they do of representing them.”
You don’t often see such blunt agent-to-agent shots. An announcement the Jays-Marlins trade has been completed will be made soon. It was a solid baseball trade even though John Farrell’s Red Sox have smugly let it be known that they could have made that deal and chose not to.
Give David Sloane credit. The Coral Springs-based agent had a healthy enough skepticism of the Marlins to shield client Carlos Delgado from the same situation Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle, Jose Reyes, John Buck and Emilio Bonifacio are facing as they prepare to become members of the Toronto Blue Jays.
When the Marlins signed Delgado to a four-year, $52 million free agent contract before the 2005 season, Sloane wasn’t thrilled that the offer was back-loaded and did not include any no-trade provisions. Unconvinced Delgado would be a Marlin for the duration of that contract, he insisted on a unique clause that would allow Delgado to recoup whatever money he lost as a result of being traded to a team whose players are subject to state income tax. The Marlins after one season traded Delgado to the Mets, but he didn’t take a financial hit the way this current batch of soon-to-be ex-Marlins will.
Robert Raiola, the sports and entertainment group manager at Fazio, Mannuzza, Roche, Tankel and LaPilusa, a New Jersey-based tax, accounting and advisory firm, told the Wall Street JournalMarlins players will lose a combined $8.4 million. According to the article, a tax rate hike for high income earners in Ontario is set to come online soon.
To the best of Sloane’s knowledge, that Delgado contract was the first and only one to include protection from unforeseen state income taxes. Considering the club’s history, wouldn’t be surprised if representatives of future Marlins’ free agent targets insist on similar provisions. Of the 11 players this Marlins ownership group has signed to contracts of three or more years, five were traded after the first season (Delgado, Paul Lo Duca, Reyes, Buehrle, Heath Bell). Three others — Buck, Mike Lowell, Luis Castillo — were traded after two seasons.
The five players going from the Miami Marlins to the Toronto Blue Jays figure to be quite unhappy with one aspect of the pending blockbuster between the clubs.
Those players could take a significant financial hit moving from Florida, a state with no income tax, to Canada, a country where their tax rate will reach 47.97 percent between provincial and federal requirements, according to Forbes.com.
Retired first baseman Carlos Delgado could have faced the same issue when the Marlins traded him to the New York Mets seven years ago. But his agent, David Sloane, already had found a solution.
The Marlins had refused to grant Delgado a no-trade clause when they signed him to a four-year, $52 million free-agent contract on Jan. 26, 2005 — a stance that foreshadowed their positions last off-season with free-agent shortstop Jose Reyes, left-hander Mark Buehrle and closer Heath Bell, all of whom have since been traded.
Sloane, trying to protect Delgado, negotiated a different form of security into the player’s contract — a clause that required any team that acquired Delgado to pay him the amount of the income tax that he would be charged by his new state.
The clause would not have applied if the Marlins had traded Delgado to a team in another state without income tax — say, the Texas Rangers. But when the Marlins sent Delgado to the Mets 11 months after signing him — sound familiar? — the first baseman was covered.
Sloane said that Delgado saved $2,269,500 million in taxes over the rest of his contract. At the time of the trade, he still was owed $39 million over three years, and the Mets later exercised a $12 million club option to keep him through 2009.
“When the Marlins refused to include a no-trade clause, that raised a red flag for me,” Sloane said. “I set out to try to find a way to give my client a bit of security in a deal that lacked it.
“The way to do that was by insisting that, if he was traded to a state with state income tax, that he would be made whole and net out the same amount that he would have if he had remained in Florida.”
It is not known whether any of the five players going to the Jays negotiated a similar clause in their contracts; none of their agents responded to a question on the matter Thursday.
Four of the five were under multiyear contracts. Right-hander Josh Johnson signed an extension in January 2010. Catcher John Buck agreed to a free-agent deal in November 2010, Reyes and Buehrle to free-agent deals last December.
Johnson will earn $13.75 million in ‘13, Buehrle $11 million and Reyes $10 million. Each then would owe nearly $600,000 in Canadian taxes, according to Forbes. Buck, earning $6 million, would owe probably about half that, and Bonifacio, projected to earn about $2.5 million in arbitration, considerably less.
For Johnson and Buck, the tax hit would be a one-time thing; both are free agents at the end of the season. Buehrle, however, is guaranteed $52 million through ’15, including a $4 million signing bonus that was deferred. Reyes is guaranteed $96 million through ’17, including a $4 million buyout on a club option. Bonifacio is under club control through arbitration for two more years.
Carlos Delgado arrived in Dunedin for the first time in the spring of 1989.
He had been signed four months before as a 16-year-old. He bounced around the Blue Jays minor league system making stops at single-A St. Catharines, single-A Myrtle Beach, single-A Dunedin, double-A Knoxville and triple-A Syracuse.
Signed as a catcher, he was moved to left field and then to first base. And there he stood night after night at the SkyDome, once playing 432 consecutive games.
One by one, during 10 seasons with the Jays, Delgado took over the lead in career home runs (336), runs batted in (1,058), doubles (343), extra-base hits (690) and runs scored (889).
The best player the franchise ever produced -- some might argue second baseman Robbie Alomar or 1987 American League MVP George Bell were better -- has left Dodge.
He didn't exit the way Vince Carter did, playing half-heartedly and being accused of whispering in-bounds plays to the opposing team.
Delgado departed with 32 homers and 99 RBIs in 2004 despite missing a month because of a rib injury.
And now, after umpteen meetings, thousands of phone calls and flights, Delgado has joined the Florida Marlins.
How did Delgado arrive at his present place of employment? How did it all evolve?
We take you on a behind-the-scenes look at the negotiations.
Year 3 of Delgado's four-year deal is over. Agent David Sloane (right) speaks with Jays president Paul Godfrey. Sloane tells Delgado they can expect a call to talk about an extension in the spring. The call never comes.
July 12, 2004
Sloane tells Delgado what he thinks: "He is paying me for my advice and my expertise." Sloane explains it is not in Delgado's best interests to accept a trade because his client has a limited amount to gain and he could lose a lot.
"Carlos knew what to expect playing in Toronto," Sloane says, "plus none of the teams were locks to get into the playoffs."
The Dodgers sat first, one-half game ahead of the San Francisco Giants, while the Rangers were in first by two games over Oakland. The Red Sox were seven games back of the Yankees and one game up on Oakland in the wild-card race and the Marlins were in third place. "No one interested had a 12-game lead," Sloane says. "If a team is willing to talk about a contract extension, fine, but what's the point? He shouldn't go as a hired gun. He delivers a championship, then what? It doesn't mean he'd be re-signed, he doesn't earn any more money."
Sloane says that Delgado is a streak hitter, going stretches where Sandy Koufax couldn't get him out, and then have 2-for-20 skids. "What if he has a rough start in a new location?"
July 15, 2004, Coral Springs, Fla.
Sloane awakes and logs on to sportspages.com, a website linking all sports pages together, to check all activities on his 18 clients. He find stories that Ricciardi is flying to Texas to ask Delgado to waive his no-trade. The stories are only half right, the conversation already has taken place; Ricciardi is coming for an answer. Before Delgado has the chance to reply, the cat is out of the bag. In Arlington, at the Jays workout, Delgado refuses to talk to the media until he speaks to his GM first.
July 16, 2004, Arlington, Tex.
Ricciardi and Delgado talk behind the batting cage for less than a minute. Delgado is not waiving his no-trade clause. Regarding Delgado's existing four-year, $68-million US pact, Ricciardi says, as he has in the past: "I didn't sign him." If it's a knock on former GM Gord Ash, it is also a knock on Godfrey. GMs don't hand out $68-million deals without approval of their bosses.
October 3, 2004, SkyDome
The Jays end the season with a 3-2 loss to the Yankees.
October 5, 2004, Coral Springs, Fla.
Delgado flies to Miami from Toronto. Sloane and Delgado eat at Anita's Gourmet Mexicano and talk about possible destinations for 2005, while not eliminating the Jays.
Delgado wants to go to a team with enough pitching to win. The two assess all teams. The list of probables consist of the Mariners, Mets, Braves, Orioles, the Red Sox, Dodgers, Rangers and Yankees. Sloane suggests the Tigers, who are spending, and the Indians, whom he thinks are making strides. Delgado says no. Delgado adds the Marlins, saying "I've always liked their lineup and their pitching."
The next day Delgado has both knees examined by Dr. Daniel Kanell, team doctor of the the Miami Dolphins and the Marlins. Delgado's knees are given the green light.
October 15, 2004, SkyDome
Godfrey phones Sloane and tells him he'll be calling the next week with an offer.
October 18, 2004, Coral Springs, Fla.
Sloane receives a call from Godfrey (right). The Jays offer is a two-year, $12-million deal. Sloane calls Delgado. Looking back at the 13 years he has known Delgado, Sloane says it the single most difficult call he has had to make.
"It wasn't what Carlos said when I told him, it was what he didn't say," Sloane says. "The phone was quiet for a long time."
The offer wouldn't even have made Delgado the highest-paid player on the 2005 Jays. Roy Halladay earns $10.5 million. It was higher than the $4.75 million Miguel Batista would earn.
After that offer, there wasn't any doubt Delgado would file for free agency.
November 1, 2004, SkyDome
Godfrey phones Sloane for a second brief conversation. Sloane tells Godfrey: "We'll see what the marketplace is and then see whether we can bridge the gap."
Sloane had made up his mind he wasn't making any decisions until the largest elephant in the room moved. Translation: Until he hears from the Yankees.
November 5, 2004, Coral Springs, Fla.
Angels GM Bill Stoneman and Sloane talk. Stoneman is interested in Delgado -- but only as a DH. Scratch Anaheim.
November 7, 2004, Miami, Fla.
Sloane meets with Baltimore GM Jim Beattie and his top man, Mike Flanagan, at the Miami Airport Marriott. The O's executives were attending an MLB seminar on salary arbitration. The Orioles seem interested.
November 8, Key Biscayne, Fla.
Sloane meets with Mariners GM Bill Bavasi, assistant GM Lee Pelekoudas and lawyer Bart Waldman at the Ritz Carlton as the GM meetings get underway. Sloane and Pelekoudas were classmates at Arizona State. The M's are very interested.
November 9, 2004, Key Biscayne, Fla.
Next Sloane meets with Yankees GM Brian Cashman and vice-president Jean Afterman. The Yankees tell Sloane they have interest but are in a holding pattern. No offer is made.
November 10, 2004, Key Biscayne, Fla.
Sloane meets with Dodger GM Paul DePodesta, vice-president Kim Ng and assistant GM Roy Smith. L.A. has interest but there are other deals which have to happen first, such as moving outfielder Shawn Green to the Arizona Diamondbacks.
November 20, 2004, Aguadilla, Puerto Rico
Delgado meets at his father's house with the Mariners' Pat Gillick (right) , a former Jays GM who is now a consultant with Seattle, Bob Engle, a former Jays scouting director now with the M's, and Epy Guerrero, who signed Delgado to his first deal on Oct. 9, 1988.
December 6, 2004, Toronto
Delgado flies into Toronto for his seventh annual visit to the Special Olympics breakfast. Godfrey visits Delgado in his Yorkville townhouse and suggests that the Jays will offer arbitration, if Delgado will agree not to accept.
Sloane tells Delgado: "Why restrict an interested team and cost them two draft picks?"
But there is also the worry Delgado will be portrayed as the bad guy if he doesn't accept arbitration.
A confident Sloane also tells Delgado: "While you are in Toronto, pick up a menu from the House of Chan ... I'll submit it at the arbitration hearing rather than your numbers ... and still win."
Delgado was named the top player in the majors, according to the annual statistical rankings compiled by the Elias Sports Bureau over the past two seasons. Delgado led AL first basemen for the second consecutive season on rankings which combine stats such as batting average, plate appearances, home runs and runs batted in.
December 7, 2004, Toronto
The Jays don't offer Delgado salary arbitration, which means they will not get two additional draft picks this June.
December 9, 2004, Anaheim
l Sloane and Delgado fly to Anaheim for the winter meetings. Sloane wanted Delgado there.
"I could give teams a long statistical presentation, but teams probably had a better breakdown than I did," Sloane says. "If an owner or GM is putting his money on the line he wants to see what he is getting."
And meeting Delgado is impressive. Sloane heads to Anaheim with four offers in his pocket:
* Four years, $40 million from the Mariners.
* Four years, $40 million from the Rangers.
* Three years, $27 million from the Mets.
* Three years, $25 million from the Orioles.
Sloane waits for the elephant to stir.
December 10, 2004, Anaheim
The winter meetings are at the Anaheim Marriott. In a wise decision Sloan and Delgado stay five minutes away at the Sheraton.
"If we stay at the Marriott it would have taken 45 minutes for Carlos to walk through the lobby to a suite -- we asked everyone to come to our hotel," Sloane says. "The best thing for me as an agent would be to walk the gauntlet, but it was not in the best interests of my client."
The Mariners -- Bavasi, Gillick, Pelekoudas and Waldman -- meet with Sloane and Delgado.
Delgado explains his stance on refusing to stand atop the dugout steps when God Bless America is played.
"I'm against making baseball a political tool," Delgado says. "Regardless, if a team has a policy where every player has to stand atop the top step of the dugout, I'll do it. I won't do anything to place myself above the team."
It is an explanation he gives in many meetings.
The M's have money to spend, they're after two free-agent bats and are also talking to free-agent third basemen Adrian Beltre and Corey Koskie, along with Richie Sexson and Delgado.
December 11, 2004, Anaheim
The Orioles, represented by Beattie, Flanagan and manager Lee Mazzilli, meet with Delgado and Sloane at the Sheraton.
Mazzilli always told Delgado that, when he got a manager's job, he wanted the latter as a first baseman.
After Mazzilli retells the conversation to the room, Delgado says: "Now's your chance, talk these guys into giving me some money."
The Mets, led by GM Omar Minaya (above), enter the room with Minaya introducing manager Willie Randolph, vice-president Jim Duquette, assistant GM John Rico and assistant GM Tony Bernazard.
Sloane was very impressed with Randolph, saying he "exudes a calm confidence" and is "the type of guy in a meeting where some people could talk and talk, while Willie could say four words and you'd remember the four words he said."
Yanks GM Brian Cashman meets with Sloane and Delgado. Says Sloane: "We meet the Mets and they come in with five people, Cashman, one of the truly fine people in the game, walks in on his own."
Sloane gets the impression the Yanks are interested but New York still doesn't know what to do with Jason Giambi. Reports in New York papers say the Yanks are looking to void Giambi's contract since he admitted to the U.S. grand jury in San Francisco he took steroids.
December 12, 2004, Anaheim
The M's and Sloane meet again, this time at the Marriott, as Delgado has left for a fight in Vegas. Seattle wants to hammer out a deal then and there. Bavasi points to an easel with a pad of paper hanging on it.
Bavasi: "What kind of number will it take for us to put up there to get it done? Sloane can't answer. The elephant still has not stirred.
Agent Casey Close, who represents Sexson, arrives in the M's suite. Bavasi and Sloane move to an adjoining room.
Sloane meets with Theo Epstein (above) of the Red Sox and is told the Sox had been close to making a trade which would have cleared payroll for Delgado.
Epstein tells Sloane "we were on the two-yard line headed for the end zone, but we just picked up a 15-yard penalty."
Speculation is the Mets backed out of a deal for Manny Ramirez.
December 15, 2004, Coral Springs, Fla.
Sloane's phone rings in his office. After a short conversation he puts down the phone and starts laughing.
"What's so funny?" his wife Joanne asks.
"That was the Florida Marlins asking about Carlos," Sloane says.
"What's wrong? Carlos is good enough to play for the Marlins," Joanne said.
Sloane tells his wife that certainly Delgado is good enough, but he wonders whether the mid-revenue Marlins can compete at this rodeo.
Sexson signs a four-year $50-million deal with Seattle. Sexson has not played since April, but it sets market value for Delgado.
December 16, 2004, Seattle
l Adrian Beltre signs a five-year, $64-million contract with the M's. Seattle withdraws from the Delgado bidding.
December 19, 2004, Miami
Marlins GM Larry Beinfest phones Sloane and gets his attention with a three-year $35-million offer.
December 21, 2004, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
Pedro Martinez, who signed a four-year, $50- million deal with the Mets on Dec. 14, calls Delgado.
Says Martinez: "We talked, it was a personal decision for him. He asked me a few questions about the Mets and my negotiations and I gave him some straight answers."
December 28, 2004, Coral Springs
Cashman phones to say Giambi is staying with the Yanks and they are about to sign free-agent first baseman Tino Martinez. The elephant has moved. Sloane wants to begin calling but because it's the holidays he waits until the new year.
January 3, 2005, Coral Springs
Sloane phones the Rangers, the Orioles, the Red Sox, the Mets and Marlins. The Marlins book their first meeting.
January 10, 2005, San Juan, Puerto Rico
Carlos Beltran signs a seven-year, $119-million deal with the Mets. Melvin Mora calls Delgado to try to talk him into playing for the Orioles.
January 12, 2005, San Juan
Beltran calls Delgado, trying to recruit him.
The Mets ask to meet with Delgado to talk contract, but Sloane says no, it is Beltran's day. Delgado does meet with Jeff Wilpon, executive vice-president, to explain his God Bless America stance. The contract is not discussed.
January 15, 2005, Fort Lauderdale/Miami
Delgado flies in from Puerto Rico and has breakfast with Sloane at the Sheraton Lauderdale.
They head to Dolphins Stadium to meet with owner Jeffrey Loria, president David Samson, GM Beinfest, assistant GM Michael Hill, vice-president Tony Perez, manager Jack McKeon and recent free-agent signing Al Leiter.
Sloane asks Loria, "What if at the trade deadline you can deal for Barry Zito, does Carlos' signing here prevent you from making the deal from a financial standpoint?"
Loria answers: "No it wouldn't, I'd make that deal."
Loria continually talks about winning, about wanting to win for the people who joined the Marlins since they last won ... way back in 2003.
The Marlins tell Delgado all but one of his home runs the past two seasons to right field would have been out of Dolphins Stadium. The park has one of the more spacious right fields -- compared with tiny Camden Yards in Baltimore or the jetstream in right centre at The Ballpark in Arlington.
In Miami it is 345 feet down the line and 385 feet to right-centre.
The group headed for Joe's Stone Crab for lunch. Loria and Delgado drive together in a Town Car, while Perez, Hill and Sloane go in Beinfest's BMW and Samson drives the rest in his BMW.
Joe's doesn't take reservations and there is always a wait. This group of high rollers is whisked inside and vice-president Andre Dawson meets them there.
In all there are 1,153 homers at the table with Dawson (438), Perez (379) and Delgado (336).
Leiter was the right choice to be invited. He knew Delgado as a young pup with the Jays during the early 1990s. He had just left the Mets.
"Who better to discourage him from going to New York?" Leiter asks. "In New York you have seven or eight competing papers, TV networks and their affiliates and peripheral periodicals. It's fine when you are dealing and kicking butt."
The reality is, Leiter tells Delgado, that doesn't happen.
"It just chip, chip, chip, chips away at your resolve, cracking away your protective toughness," Leiter says. "Every bad game it's like 'are you worried? ... the manager says this ... are you worried?' You begin to doubt yourself. That's why slumps in New York are so elongated.
"Then, the guys on (talk radio) get on you, move it up another notch and everyone driving to the game listens. You get to the park and your home fans are booing you and after the game you say something stupid."
Three newspapers cover the Marlins.
"Each serves its own county, one in Dade, one for Broward and one for Palm Beach," Leiter says.
Near the end of lunch, McKeon goes outside to smoke a fat cigar. Later, the group leaves as one, and two Miami cops come up and grab Delgado by the arms.
"We're not letting you go unless you sign here," one cop says. "We'll slap the cuffs on you and taser your butt unless you give us an answer."
It was a practical joke, courtesy of McKeon, arranged on his cigar break. The cops pull out a camera and pose for pictures.
Back at the stadium, Sloane asks for a no-trade clause and is told no.
The Marlins tell him since they are paying Mike Hampton $10 million to pitch against them and for the Braves, the contract will be back loaded.
Sloane and Delgado depart and the agent asks the client what he thinks.
January 18, 2005, Miami
Sloane meets with the Marlins again. Rangers shortstop Mike Young leaves Delgado a message about how playing in Arlington would be a good fit for him.
January 19, 2005, Coral Springs
The Rangers want to fly Delgado and Sloane to the Dominican Republic on owner Tom Hicks' Gulfstream and put them up at a villa at Casa de Campo. Sloane declines, saying "first, we would feel obligated and second we would be trapped there."
January 20, 2005, San Juan
Delgado books a table at the Ritz Carlton for himself, Sloane and Mets officials.
Sloane says "they were a long shot, they were offering a limited no-trade clause and lower award bonus clauses."
Meanwhile, the Mets have given no-trade clauses to Martinez and Beltran and larger bonus packages.
Sloane says "we thought that without Carlos the Mets were a fourth-place club and we thought that with Carlos they were still a fourth-place club."
January 21, 2005 San Juan
Delgado books another table at the Ritz Carlton to entertain Rangers owner Hicks, GM John Hart, assistant GM John Daniels and manager Buck Showalter.
The Rangers mention again how first baseman Mark Texieria has volunteered to move to the outfield.
Sloane remembers the meeting as "one of the best he'd ever had in 31 years" until near the end.
The Rangers made a four-year $48-million offer.
Then, the Rangers made Sloane promise not to shop the offer or it would be pulled off the table. They insist upon a Sunday deadline.
Sloane told them "please don't do this, I know how Carlos will react."
January 22, 2005, Sunrise, Fla.
Sloane calls Beinfest and arranges to meet at Legal Seafood. Beinfest brings assistant GM Hill with him, prompting Sloane to joke "you had to bring your hit man with you, you couldn't take me 1-on-1?"
Sloane says "we can make Carlos Delgado a Marlin."
Since the Marlins don't give no-trade clauses, Sloane asked for a tax equalization plan. For instance if Delgado is dealt from Florida, which has zero state tax, to say Massachusetts, which is the highest, the Marlins will make up the difference.
The GM says he will take it to Loria and Samson.
January 23, 2005, Sunrise, Fla.
Sloane and Beinfest meet again at Legal Seafood. Sloane takes his son Max, 18, as his bodyguard. They arrange to meet at noon. At 12:03, Sloane's cellphone rings. It is Daniels from the Rangers.
Daniels tells Sloane that 75% of Delgado's at-bats would be as a DH. Says Sloane: "If we had 25 conversations with the Rangers, we were told in 24 that the question of him playing first was not an issue."
The Mets insist on a deadline since their fan fest is about to begin.
Sloane phones Delgado and tells him of the Mets' deadline. Delgado tells Sloane not to phone the Mets back.
ESPN's Karl Ravech phones to check on the talks and Sloane tells him the Mets are out.
Ravech writes the news on ESPN.com. Minaya is told the news and phones Sloane roughly 15 times, but Sloane has his phone turned off.
January 23, 2005, Sunrise, Fla.
Minaya phones to get back in the bidding and talks continue with Sloane.
Sloane meets again with the Marlins, who bump their offer to four years for $52 million. An option for a fifth year is discussed.
The Orioles make a four-year, $48-million offer.
January 25, 2005, Miami
Delgado signs a four-year, $52-million deal with the Marlins with an option for a fifth year, worth $16 million, which includes a $4-million buyout.
He'll earn $4 million in 2005, $13.5 million in 2006, $14.5 million in 2007 and $16 million in 2008. In 2009 he'll earn $16 million, of which $4 million is guaranteed.
Delgado can guarantee the other $12 million depending on how he does in MVP voting and whether he earns post-season MVP awards. Delgado needs 30 points during the first four years of the contract to vest the option.
Under Samson's plan, Delgado can earn 20 points for a World Series and 10 for league championship series MVP. He can earn 10 for the NL MVP, nine for second place, down to one for a 10th-place finish.
In his final four seasons with the Jays, Delgado has 16 points -- a runner-up finish in 2003 and a fourth-place finish in 2000.
If traded, the tax equalization plans kicks in and, while the Marlins don't give bonus clauses for finishing second to fifth in the MVP race the way many clubs do, Sloane worked out an arrangement where Delgado gets $100,000 for winning the MVP and $50,000 if he finishes second to Barry Bonds, since Bonds dominates the award.
Delgado will be paid half of each year's salary during the season, and half on Nov. 30. He can earn $50,000 if selected to the all-star team, $500,000 as the World Series MVP and $25,000 if he wins a Silver Slugger.
Sloane did an excellent job bumping Delgado's contract.
Loria asks Delgado to fly to Paris for the weekend to celebrate the contract.
While Delgado now moves to the National League in the hopes of helping the Marlins to a second World Series title in three seasons, it was the cunning Sloane who stole the spotlight in the days and weeks leading up to yesterday's deal...
For that, he can thank Sloane, who remained fiercely protective of his 32- year-old client throughout and concluded negotiations by playing four teams - the Marlins, Mets, Rangers and Orioles - off against one another...
Florida had initially made Delgado a three-year, $36 million offer. But the key to yesterday's deal was Sloane embarking on a gutsy strategy to wait until marquee free agents like Carlos Beltran signed and left Delgado as the lone premium bat still on the market - sowing the seeds for a bidding war.
Sloane played the waiting game perfectly. This guy can deal. The Jays were among many who believed, incorrectly, that Delgado, with a glut of younger sluggers on the open market, would be forced to settle for a contract of perhaps two years, with an option, for about $10 million a season. Wrong!
Sloane had set-in-stone salary parameters for Delgado and stuck to his guns throughout. He believed Carlos Beltran would set the ceiling for Delgado in terms of dollars per year and that the trio of Adrian Beltre, Richie Sexson and Troy Glaus would serve as the floor. That's exactly what happened.
And as the bidding continued in The Price is Right fashion, the Marlins, Delgado, and his agent, David Sloane of Coral Springs, Fla., agreed upon a four-year guaranteed deal worth $52 million, the richest contract in franchise history.
In the wake of Bonds' and Boone's surrender and A's free agent Jason Giambi's seven-year contract for Delgado-type money with the Yankees, David Sloane, who had wisely included a clause which allowed Delgado's contract to be reopened last winter, could easily be voted agent of the year.
However, not every team was happy with the signing. "They're paying Carlos Delgado more than Chipper Jones? Who is his agent -- he's a good one," said one executive. "Jones won an MVP for Atlanta ... I thought that would be the ceiling for position players until Alex Rodriguez."
Toronto general manager Gord Ash panicked a year ago after being forced to trade Shawn Green, and Sloane was able to parlay that into a sweetheart deal for his client.
He got Ash to sign Delgado to a three-year, $32 million deal a year ago and forced Ash to include an opt-out clause for Delgado, allowing him to force a trade after the first year was completed.
It was a win-win situation for Delgado.
Had he been hurt or struggled on the field the past season, he had the security of the final two years of that deal.
As it was, he enjoyed a season worthy of MVP consideration.
And Delgado was able to combine that with the ego of a new ownership wanting to show fans it is committed to building a contending team into a salary that shook baseball's free-agent market before the first player had even filed for this year's bidding.
CHICAGO _ The early returns are in and they are not good for the Cubs' ongoing attempt to sign Sammy Sosa to a contract extension.
Toronto's CarlosDelgado, who at 28 is three years younger than Sosa and has hit 196 fewer career home runs, raised the bar on salaries Friday with his four-year, $68-million deal. But he won't be the highest paid for long.
Manny Ramirez, who already has turned down five years and $75 million, is expected to receive a bigger offer from the Cleveland Indians this week. And, like Chipper Jones' six-year, $90 million deal with Atlanta, these are only the contract prelims.
Things will get serious with Alex Rodriguez in November. His deal will have major bearing on Derek Jeter, who is expected to make Yankees owner George Steinbrenner pay for leaving that nine-year, $120 million deal in his desk drawer too long.
Delgado forced the Blue Jays' hand by challenging for the Triple Crown after signing a deal last winter that included the right to demand a trade after the season. He had two years left on that contract but signed for two more years. The average value of the deal is $17 million, which makes it the biggest on the books. The biggest had been Rogers Clemens' $15.45 million.
Maybe it is merely a sign of the times, but before a single pitch had even been thrown in this historic Subway Series between the Yankees and New York Mets, baseball’s salary structure had once again been turned on its ear. The free-agency filing period officially will begin the day after the Yankees and Mets play their final game, which could be as soon as Thursday or as late as Halloween.
And when the prospective free agents begin taking off their jerseys and putting on the letters of the Major League Baseball Players Association, let the record show that they will enter the winter games standing on higher ground than they might have expected. After Roger Clemens signed an, er, interesting contract earlier this season that guarantees him $30.9 million over the 2001-2002 seasons, his average salary of roughly $15.45 million was the highest in the game, exceeding the $15 million awarded to Los Angeles Dodgers right-hander Kevin Brown in 1998. Now the number has gone up again, to an average salary of $17 million that will be paid to Toronto Blue Jays first baseman Carlos Delgado during the four-year period from 2001-2004.
The most questionablecontractof last winter, in fact, was signed byDelgadohimself, a three-year, $36-millioncontractthat included a $3 million signing bonus and a base salary of $5.6 million this year.But thatcontractallowedDelgadothe right to demand a trade within 10 days of the final game in this World Series, so the Jays were forced to renegotiate with a player who threatened to win the Triple Crown this season and should finish in the top five of the MVP balloting.Thiscontractincludes a signing bonus of $4.8 million, which meansDelgadohas earned $7.8 million in the last year merely for signing his name. (Autograph shows not included.)
Thankfully, thiscontractincludes a no-trade clause, which means both player and club actually may have to (gasp) honor the full deal this time.
Naturally, this is only the beginning. Technically,Delgadowasn’t even a free agent, meaning he wasn’t able to playToronto’s offers against other teams.
The power-hitting first baseman agreed Friday to a $36 million, three-year contract theToronto Blue Jays. But the team gave him the right to demand a trade after next season.
"We were able to work a deal out where I was happy, not so much with the money but with some of the clauses that are in the contract," Delgado said. "At the end of season, we were talking about a long-term contract but I had a few concerns."
Delgado's average annual salary of $12 million ties New York Yankeespitcher David Cone for the 10th-highest in baseball.
After making $5,075,000 last season, he gets a $3 million signing bonus, $5.6 million next year, $12.65 million in 2001 and $14.75 million in 2002.
The key was a unique provision agent David Sloane negotiated with the Blue Jays. Delgado may demand a trade in the 10 days following next year's World Series, and the Blue Jays would be forced to deal him by Feb. 15, 2001. If they don't deal him by then, he would have the right to either become a free agent or remain with the team
In addition, he has a full no-trade clause, which means he can pick which team he would accept a trade to.
Delgado, who hit .272 with 44 homers and 134 RBIs last season, mentioned Toronto's uncertain ownership situation, manager Jim Fregosi's decision to fire five coaches the player liked, and the trade of Shawn Green to Los Angeles as his concerns.
Sloane said the changing market also was a reason for the clauses.
"He has the opportunity to see what happens with the salaries this year and see how much they go up, and how much he's giving up in order to remain here," Sloane said.
Delgado, who would have been eligible for free agency after next season, is a career .267 hitter with 149 home runs and 467 RBIs, and is the franchise leader with a .531 slugging percentage. Delgado also is a leader in the clubhouse and popular with fans.
"We didn't want to see Carlos leave us as a free agent and the club get nothing in return," Blue Jays general manager Gord Ash said. "This allows us to explore the marketplace and get something in return should he wish to trigger that clause."
Delgado said he hopes he won't have to use the clause, and Sloane said he would be surprised if he did.
Both sides agreed to the three-year deal after failing to agree on a five-year contract. Toronto offered $60 million for five years, Delgado asked for $67.5 million.
"I got security and in three years I'll be 30. I'll still be in a prime and get to do another contract," Delgado said. "If at the end of the season something needs to be addressed, we'll address it.
"I'm not going to jump the gun and say, well in September things are going to be bad. And I don't see a reason why things are going to be bad with Fregosi."
The Blue Jays discussed trading Delgado after contracts talks stalled, but demand for Delgado on baseball's trade market was lukewarm, with four teams believed to have expressed interest.
Clubs were reluctant to trade quality players to Toronto and then sign Delgado to a huge contract.
"This is pretty awesome from the business side," Delgado said. "I love the city, the money is right, the terms are right and the length is right. In three years I'm a free agent again."
The Baltimore Orioles made their first significant move of what promises to be a busy offseason by signing free agent reliever Mike Timlin to a four-year, $16 million contract. His arrival means the Orioles have a proven closer for the first time since allowing Randy Myers to depart via free agency a year ago.
Timlin, 32, is the first important acquisition for new Orioles general manager Frank Wren, but he’s not likely to be the last. Orioles majority owner Peter Angelos on Wednesday discussed a significant make-over of the team, with the acquisition of a starting pitcher, center fielder, second baseman and catcher at the top of the list.
Timlin was the day’s most significant development. The Orioles had made acquiring a new closer a top priority after a season in which youngster Armando Benitez and five other relievers collected saves. “We think he has a chance to be a real dominant closer,” Wren said of Timlin. “He was one of the best in the American League in the second half. Our scouts raved about the way he threw. They felt he really had arrived on the scene. We weren’t the only club that felt that way.”
Benitez had the closer’s role for most of the season. Although his 22 saves are three more than Timlin had for the Seattle Mariners, Benitez never gained the complete confidence of Miller after hitting Tino Martinez with a pitch that started a brawl at Yankee Stadium. Benitez blew four save chances in all, but it was his lack of consistency and maturity that bothered the Orioles. Team officials have discussed a trade that would send Benitez to the New York Mets for catcher Todd Hundley, but they’re holding off on the deal because of concerns about Hundley’s health.
Although Timlin blew five saves, he was tremendous in the second half of the season, converting 18 of 19 chances. He appeared in 70 games and had an ERA of 2.95. Scouts say he has a first-rate arm, and his best pitch is a hard sinker that should make him more effective on the grass of Camden Yards. “I like Baltimore, I know Baltimore can win,” Timlin said. “I asked Alan Mills about the organization and how things are done. He said nothing but positive things. He said it was a great organization and they take care of you.”
Timlin began his big league career by spending 6 ½ seasons with Toronto. His best season was 1996 when he saved 31 games, though he blew seven chances. He was traded to Seattle in 1997 but wasn’t give the closer’s job until this season. Timlin made just over $3 million last season, and the Mariners offered him $12 million over three years. However, they declined to give him a fourth season and all but gave up on signing Timlin yesterday morning when they completed negotiations with Jose Mesa. They informed Timlin that they were reducing their offer, thereby forcing his hand. He had two four-year offers, one from the Orioles and the other from the New York Yankees, who wanted him to be a setup man and occasionally share the closer’s job with Mariano Rivera.
Timlin chose the Orioles after Wren and agent David Sloane agreed on a deal that includes a $1 million signing bonus and base salaries of $2 million in 1999, $4 million in 2000, $4 million in 2001 and $5 million in 2002.