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Phillies Sign Floyd

By Paul Hagen
Philadelphia Daily News

August 23, 2001

Shortly before the first pitch, the phone rang. On the line was agent Ron Shapiro. And with that, the Phillies' negotiations with first-round draft choice Gavin Floyd took a final, strange twist.

And, shortly before midnight last night, a weary but clearly pleased Mike Arbuckle, the director of player development and scouting, announced the 18-year-old righthander chosen fourth overall in June's draft agreed to a $4.2 million signing bonus.

That was a dramatic turnabout from just a day earlier when a grim Arbuckle announced the Floyd family rejected the team's final offer of $4 million.

When Shapiro called last night, however, he was conciliatory. He indicated the Floyds were willing to come off their demand for a deal comparable to the $5.15 million first overall pick Joe Mauer got from the Minnesota Twins.

"He expressed an interest in at least exploring any avenues that might exist," Arbuckle said.

That sent the Phillies into a huddle, which resulted in their adding $200,000 to the offer. Then they waited. Finally, word came back the deal was accepted.

Arbuckle insisted he really believed the possibility of signing Floyd was "99.9 percent up in smoke" when he spoke to the media Tuesday night.

Clearly, however, by making that announcement some 48 hours before the unofficial deadline to complete a deal, he left some wiggle room.

"I don't know if I was intentionally sending a signal, but you never want to walk away from any negotiation while the clock is still ticking," he said.

"It would be silly to say, 'To heck with you.' We drafted Gavin Floyd, because we thought we had a chance to sign him."

Added general manager Ed Wade: "We were forthright when we told them we were at the finish line. But in the world of the Internet, these signals go back and forth."

And did the Floyds bluff by having Gavin and his older brother, Mike, drive to the University of South Carolina Tuesday night?

Classes are scheduled to begin today, and once the 18-year-old righthander stepped into the classroom, the Phillies would have lost their rights to sign him and he would have been ineligible for the draft until he completed his junior season.

Interesting, however, Floyd was quoted in yesterday's Baltimore Sun as seeming to leave the door open for a last-second settlement.

"As of right now, I'm planning on going to college," he said on his cell phone while driving to Columbia, S.C. "I'm very disappointed we haven't worked things out."

Said Arbuckle: "I think the boys' hope all along was to sign, but there were a lot of other factors going on."

Mike Floyd, who would have been a senior outfielder for the Gamecocks, also signed. The Phillies drafted him in the 22nd round. Both players are expected to be in Philadelphia this week for physicals. Both will be assigned to the Florida Instructional League.

An aura of intrigue clung to the situation all evening. Floyd supposedly was in the vicinity of the campus, but calls to his cell phone and parents' home in Severna Park, Md., went unanswered.

In the meantime, the idea a high school player would even think about walking away from that much money left many in the clubhouse shaking their heads.

Manager Larry Bowa got a $2,000 bonus as an undrafted player in 1966.

"[The Phillies] said, 'This is what we're going to give you. If you want it, you can have it,' " he remembered. "But nothing shocks me anymore."

Reliever Ricky Bottalico also went undrafted and signed for $2,000.

"Let me just say that I think if you're good enough, you're going to make your money anyway," Bottalico said. "Turning down $4 million or $5 million? That's insane. There are people in this clubhouse that have four or five years in who haven't made that kind of money."

Arbuckle made that point a day earlier after announcing the Floyd family turned down the team's offer.

Choosing second baseman Marlon Anderson as an example, Arbuckle noted the Phillies' second-round draft choice in June 1995 got a signing bonus of about $250,000.

Guesstimates of his annual salaries through the minors would be $2,100 at Class A Batavia in 1995, $5,000 at Class A Clearwater and Double A Reading in 1996, $7,500 at Reading in 1997, and $11,000 at Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and maybe $20,000 in pro-rated big-league money in 1998. The last three years, he has made $200,000 (1999), $260,000 (2000) and $280,000 (2001).

So by the end of this, his seventh pro season, Anderson figures to have earned about $1,035,600 total.

"I'm just pulling a name out of the hat," Arbuckle said. "But how many years is [Anderson] going to have to play productively to earn $4 million?"

For that reason, Arbuckle is hopeful the Major League Baseball Players Association will be amenable to negotiating some sort of salary cap for drafted players during upcoming labor talks; the NBA and NFL have some restrictions in effect.

"If I were [the union], I'd have concerns that unproven, amateur players were walking away with this kind of money," he argued. "The dollars that are directed that way have to come out of the budget somewhere, including possibly the major league payroll."

Even leftfielder Pat Burrell, who got an $8.5 million package from the Phillies after being the first player drafted in 1998, had mixed emotions on the subject.

"A player would have to be a fool to say, 'I don't deserve this, I should wait to get to the big leagues to get paid,' " he said.

"But this is a high school player. I really haven't followed it, but, obviously, that's a lot of money. And I've always thought that, especially with pitchers, so many things can happen."

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