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BASEBALL HELD HOSTAGE -- DAY 155: TESTING THE DRAFT
Published January 13, 1995
Top prospect Jason Varitek, who was selected by the Mariners in last June's amateur draft, "took a step yesterday that could lead to free agency for drafted amateur players." Varitek signed yesterday with the St. Paul Saints of the Northern League, a league not affiliated with MLB or the NAPBL. Bill Murray, Exec Dir of Baseball Operations in the Commissioner's Office, said the Mariners would still have the rights to him until next June, when Varitek goes back into the draft. But Varitek and his agent, Scott Boras, contend that by signing a professional contract, Varitek is no longer subject to the Mariners' rights or the next "amateur" draft. "In other words, the case is probably headed to an arbitrator or judge" (Murray Chass, N.Y. TIMES, 1/13). The Saints are owned by Mike Veeck, son of the late Bill Veeck. He claims that Varitek does have the right to sign with another major league organization (St. Paul PIONEER PRESS, 1/13). IN TOWN FOR THE O.J. TRIAL? MLBPA Exec Dir Donald Fehr's tour stopped in L.A. yesterday where he met with about 175 players and several agents. The union has updated about 600 players on the current tour. There are three more scheduled stops: Dallas, Caracas and the Dominican Republic. MLBPA General Counsel Gene Orza said that the current signing freeze probably will stay in place until there is a bargaining settlement (Ross Newhan, L.A. TIMES, 1/13). TRICKLING REPLACEMENT PLANS: ESPN's Keith Olbermann reported that the owners have made the following decisions regarding the use of replacements: 1) Rosters will be increased to 32, with 25 players eligible per game; 2) Players' minimum salary will be $115,000, maximum salary $200,000, none of it guaranteed; 3) Replacements will be guaranteed first class airfare, a $125 per diem at spring training, a $10,000 bonus for being on the roster opening day, and a $20,000 bonus for being on the roster in the case of a settlement; 4) The highest a team payroll could be is $7.5M ("SportsCenter," 1/12). In Washington, Thomas Boswell asks, "Can you annihilate an entire season -- or play a whole year with replacement players -- without risking the health of your product? In baseball's case, you'd be ruining two seasons" (WASHINGTON POST, 1/13). IS MR. SELIG AWARE OF THIS? Brewers GM Sal Bando said he is not spending time trying to field a replacement team: "We'll sign some (minor league) free agents, but only if we think they have a chance to make the major-league club at some point. We won't be putting together a replacement team as such" (Tom Haudricourt, MILWAUKEE SENTINEL, 1/13). TICKET PRICES: Royals GM Herk Robinson said yesterday that a ticket policy regarding the use of replacements will be announced shortly. It will likely be similar to policies announced by other teams which is half-price. Ticket prices would increase if any Major Leaguers crossed the picket line (Jeffrey Flanagan, K.C. STAR, 1/13). THE UMPS: Negotiators for locked-out umpires and the owners met in New York yesterday "without progress." The two sides meet again next Thursday in Philadelphia. Umpires want a 60% raise over four years (Rod Beeton, USA TODAY, 1/13).