Orioles say they're not concerned about signing Machado


Deadline is midnight Monday; scouting director says there has been little dialogue between two sides

August 15, 2010|By Jeff Zrebiec, The Baltimore Sun

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — When the Orioles made Florida high school shortstop Manny Machado the third overall selection in June's first-year player draft, they figured it would get to this point.

So as Orioles director of scouting Joe Jordan approaches Monday's midnight deadline to agree to a deal with Machado or lose his draft rights, he says he isn't concerned even though he acknowledges there has been very little dialogue between the club and Machado's camp.

"I think the meat of that negotiation is going to happen [Monday], and it's probably going to happen later in the day and into the evening," Jordan said. "That's kind of, I think, the normal operating procedure. That's kind of what I expect there."

Machado's side has said nothing about his asking price, but it's widely assumed that his representative, Scott Boras is looking for more than the $6.25 million signing bonus the San Diego Padres gave Georgia high school outfielder Donovan Tate, the third overall pick last year. Tate was also represented by Boras.

The highest signing bonus the Orioles have rewarded was the $6 million they gave to catcher Matt Wieters, the fifth overall pick in 2007. Wieters is also a client of Boras'.

"I'm not concerned at all. I haven't been surprised by anything," Jordan said when asked about the minimal dialogue he has had with Machado's camp. "Again, it's one of those things [where] it's more the norm. It's happening all over our industry. There's more first-round picks, higher picks, that haven't signed as of right now than ever. It's become what is expected. It's unfortunate, and [the system] is something that will be changed. It's got to be changed because it's really not a positive thing in a lot of people's minds. I don't have to like it, but there's only so much we can do right now."

As of Sunday night, the Orioles had signed 36 of their 49 picks, including six of their top 10. Jordan said Sunday that they will not sign their sixth-round pick, right-handed pitcher Dixon Anderson, who has opted to return to the University of California. The Orioles are still negotiating with seventh-round pick Matthew Bywater, a left-handed pitcher out of Pepperdine.

"We still have some ground to cover there," Jordan said. "I'm kind of at the point with some of these where we spent some money, we've overpaid, mostly to the high school players. We were over slot to [third-round pick] Dan Klein. I've got to keep this at a value that I want and I feel like is responsible for our club, our owner. At some point, we have to walk away from these guys. Â You take these gambles at times, but I can't be irresponsible. I work off of the value that our staff puts on these players."

Jordan said the club would put some of the money designated for Anderson and Bywater toward offers for a couple of pitchers it selected later in the draft. On Sunday, the Orioles agreed to terms with 28th-round pick Jaime Esquivel, a right-hander out of South Houston High in Texas. Esquivel, who had committed to Rice, went 6-2 with a 1.45 ERA and struck out 102 batters in 80 innings during his senior season. The club also signed 48th-round pick Alex Schmarzo, a right-hander out of St. Mary's College in California. Schmarzo finished his junior season with five saves and a 4.50 ERA.

Berken to have MRI on Monday

Orioles reliever Jason Berken will have a magnetic resonance imaging on his right shoulder Monday in Baltimore after recent treatments didn't produce the desired results.

"Throughout the course of the year, I had gotten treatment, and it had gotten better. I think the biggest concern is that I've been doing treatment and it's just stayed the same," said Berken, a converted starter who is 3-3 with a 3.03 ERA in 41 appearances spanning 62 1/3 innings, the most among American League relievers. "It hasn't gotten much better. We're just at the point now where it's not really acting or responding the way we hoped it would. At this point, we're just trying to gather as much information as we can and just go from there."

Berken, the Orioles' most effective pitcher in the first half, has a 7.71 ERA in nine outings since the All-Star break. He has allowed 13 earned runs in 17 1/3 innings in his past 14 games after surrendering only eight earned runs in 45 innings in his first 27 appearances this season.

Orioles manager Buck Showalter has backed off the struggling reliever considerably, using him just once since Aug. 7, trying to give Berken's shoulder a rest, but it hasn't helped ease the soreness.

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