In June 2006 the Arizona Diamondbacks under the direction of Mike Rizzo selected Max Scherzer with the eleventh overall pick in the annual amateur draft. This began an 11 month roller coaster ride as the team attempted to negotiate with Scherzer’s agent the infamous Scott Boras. Max Scherzer who was the 2005 Big 12 Conference Pitcher of the Year was a talent that was not supposed to last in the draft. Signability concerns coupled with a couple of injuries left the right handed pitcher on the board when it was time for the Diamondbacks selection. Arizona has had a philosophy of selecting the best available talent regardless of how difficult it may be to negotiate a contract. Scott Boras had notified teams of contract expectations and it appears as though Rizzo and Boras were aligned. The problems began shortly afterwards when negotiations passed from Rizzo to Diamondbacks general manager Josh Byrnes after Rizzo left the organization to accept a position with the Washington Nationals. Contract talks stalled shortly thereafter and the sides appeared deadlocked. During this time Scherzer became the only first round draft pick unsigned from the 2006 draft class. Facing a 9 PM May deadline it did not look as if the Diamondbacks and Boras could reach an agreement. If the deadline passed, Max Scherzer would re-enter next week’s draft.
As the deadline approached both sides diligently worked to strike a deal and completed a contract in principle just before time ran out. The contract still needs to be approved by the Commissioner’s office calls for a salary of $4.3 million over 4 years with bonus opportunities that could make the contract worth $6 million. The contract is structured as a Major League Contract meaning that Scherzer must be placed on the 40-man roster. This poses a dilemma for the Diamondbacks as they already have a full roster. Someone will have to be removed to make room for this draft pick who has no professional experience. If you listen to Boras or look at his college statistics Max Scherzer should become a major league pitcher but as of this moment he is an unknown commodity at the professional level. I appreciate the fact that he wants to make as much money as possible, we all have the goal of maximizing our earnings. My issue is that he has allowed his representative to insist on a deal whereby he will be responsible for removing someone from the roster making their dream of becoming a major league baseball player that much harder. Everyone on the 40-man roster is there because they have expectations of becoming a big league player and the team has a similar commitment. These 40 men have earned the right to be placed on the roster by toiling in the minor leagues and working their way up to where the team feels they can contribute to the major league team shortly. That is not the case with Scherzer. He has not reported to camp. He has not built the skills necessary or learned what is expected of him. Instead, he has pushed himself onto the roster somehow feeling he is entitled to be there. I hope he is able to come in and contribute quickly because if he isn’t; it will mean that not only does the Diamondbacks have someone on their roster not pulling his weight but they have also lost someone who had to be released or reassigned to make room for Scherzer. This deal doesn’t appear to be one that sets the player up to be a good team member but instead screams of individualism in a team game. Maybe the independent league Fort Worth Cats are a better training facility than I give them credit for and that Scherzer is some kind of pitching stud that is well beyond his years. If so I may change my outlook but for right now this doesn’t seem like a great deal.