Contract Language

Carlos Beltran told the San Francisco Chronicle that he never heard from the Giants about a new contract at the end of last season.

“I made it clear I wanted to come back,” he explained. “It didn’t happen. I understand this is a business. I understand teams have priorities. They feel I might not be the right fit for the organization.”

However, a Giants official told The Chronicle he had approximately 12 discussions with Beltran’s agent, Dan Lozano, including one face to face at the winter meetings, not to mention several text messages.

Matthew Cerrone, Lead Writer

Why am I posting this? Because it speaks to the disconnect in language between reality, reporting and how sports fans form opinions about what goes on in the free agent and trade markets…

For instance, last winter we went round and round and round on whether or not the Mets made an offer to Jose Reyes, and whether or not ‘they showed him enough love.’ Yet, I can’t find a baseball official or agent who think any of these terms matter. I mean, what is an offer anyway? The days of faxing over hard copy offer sheets as the official start of a negotiation is a thing of the past, according to people involved in these level talks. In fact, these days, I’ve been told agents are repeatedly directed by teams to say the first number, where it used to be the other way around. I’m told teams are very, very passive these days… unless of course you’re the Marlins and hellbent on signing every free agent because you’re being overt in launching a new ballpark, which is rare.

In the case of Reyes, from what I can gather having talked to people very close to all sides of that situation, Jose’s agents knew exactly what the Mets were willing to do for their client. The problem wasn’t fax or phone call, offer or no offer, official or not official, the problem wasn’t who took whom to dinner and for how much, the problem was that Jose’s agents knew Miami’s paramaters and they knew the Mets were not bidding up to them. Jose’s team kept pushing Alderson to give more money, they kept pushing him to commit to more years, but he held the line on what he felt Jose was worth. Talks cooled, they fired up again, and both sides took the same positions. So, the Marlins forced a resolution, essentially indicating they’d eventually bid more than the Mets, despite not factually knowing what the Mets were willing to do, and so Team Reyes wisely chose Miami. It didn’t matter how Alderson delivered his message, it didn’t matter if it was fax or fiction, email or rumor, Jose’s agents knew the deal and Miami was always ready to bid more…

Also, the player is barely in the loop, which is why they have an agent in the first place. The agent’s primary responsibility (for the most part) is to create options for the client, and then let the client choose. The agent doesn’t want the client to know each and every detail of discussions with the teams, because the client will then have ideas, get their hopes up and impact the situation. So, when Reyes says he never heard from the Mets, or Beltran says he never heard from the Giants, this is technically correct. The only time player and team really talk is either at the signing table or at an earlier ballpark visit (when the player is flown in for a tour and meet and greet, during which numbers are never discussed in front of the talent). That’s it. Otherwise, the player is in the dark, which is where they should want to be.

The point is, though everyone is free to be a fan however they see fit, I try not to get bogged down in language and speculate about intent, mostly because it’s almost impossible to know what matters and what doesn’t. Each team and agent seem to have their own negotiating style. There are players who are more involved and aware than others. And it’s different from sport to sport and business to business. Instead, my goal (and responsibility to this site I think) is to read everything from as many sites as I can, talk to insiders, do interviews, and then recap it all (with links, if possible) paraphrasing what I’m hearing and with a sense of what I think is going on… and then let the chips fall where they may.