Wily agent lands $52 million Delgado deal; Former Blue Jay signs with Marlins Sloane's waiting game pays off royally
Toronto Star Toronto, Ont.
By Geoff Baker Jan 26, 2005
Anyone unaware of who was representing former Blue Jay first baseman Carlos Delgado now has 52 million reasons to know the name David Sloane.
The Miami-based agent yesterday capped off a whirlwind, often bizarre and thoroughly entertaining two-month stretch of negotiations by getting the Florida Marlins to sign Delgado to a four-year, $52 million (all figures U.S.) 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.
It was only seven weeks ago that Sloane ripped into the Jays' front office after Toronto failed to improve upon an initial two- year offer made to Delgado, worth $40 million less than the package he obtained from Florida. An irate Sloane called the offer insulting and reiterated his stance that despite a sub-par 2004, Delgado was one of the game's premier players and deserved to be paid as such after eight consecutive seasons of at least 30 home runs.
"Show me another player who has been able to put up the numbers that he has with the consistency that he has," Sloane said. "You're talking about a handful of the elite players in the game."
Some general managers questioned Sloane's unpredictable approach to talks, while a few U.S. media types used words like "paranoid" to describe dealings with him.
While this deal is smaller than the four years, $68 million Delgado got from Toronto in 2000, it's far more than most observers had expected him to land in a changed baseball landscape. 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.
Sloane abruptly ended talks with the Mets on Sunday without even the courtesy of a phone call, accusing them of trying to impose deadlines on his client. The befuddled Mets begged back into the bidding and Sloane, playing good cop to his bad cop of 24 hours earlier, agreed, but continued to talk with Florida.
The Marlins had taken Delgado to lunch in Miami's trendy South Beach neighbourhood on Saturday, where he was wooed by ex-Jays teammate Al Leiter, now with the Marlins, and team executives Andre Dawson and Tony Perez.
Under some creative terms of the deal, which the Marlins will formally announce tomorrow once Delgado passes a physical today, the slugger has agreed to be paid only $4 million in 2005 by a Florida team that will exceed $56 million in payroll for the first time in its history. But the contract then leaps to a $13.5 million salary in 2006, $14.5 million in 2007 and $16 million in 2008.
An additional $16 million option for 2009 could kick in depending on how Delgado fares in MVP voting and post-season awards. If the option does not become guaranteed, the Marlins could exercise a $12 million option or buy Delgado out for $4 million.
Delgado had been looking into buying a home in the same Miami neighbourhood as ex-Jays teammates Jose Cruz Jr., Alex Gonzalez and Shannon Stewart and felt his chances of reaching the post-season were better with the Marlins.
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.
That strategy was helped by the unexpectedly high payouts to second-tier free agents like Troy Glaus and the steroid scandal involving Jason Giambi that got the New York Yankees looking at Delgado. While the Yankees later learned they couldn't dump Giambi, their interest convinced Sloane to hold off on signing any quick deals.
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