Monday, August 18, 2008

Great Moments in Negotiations

Jim Bowden expounds at length on the negotiations that led to the Nationals not signing Aaron Crow, their first round pick. I realize negotiations are complicated pursuits in which people say and do all manner of silly, inconsistent things, but this made me chuckle:
So we then moved our position, we gave them a final offer at 10:30 p.m. last night, we said here's a final take-it-or-leave-it offer of $3 million, which we later moved to $3.3 million. And then verbally at the last minute, we went to $3.5 million.
"Then we told him to pound sand. Then we called him back. Then we terminated negotiations. Then we texted him another offer. Then we said the $3.5 million was the absolutely last offer, but we had our fingers crossed the whole time . . . "

6 comments:

Rob said...

I've said it before, I'll say it here: The Nationals are screwed until the day they replace Jim Bowden.

As a Red Sox fan, he consistently reminds me of the dark, incompetent, forty-years-in-a-desert tenure of Dan Duquette.

Peter said...

KLaw has a blog entry on the Nats' failure to sign Crow:

http://insider.espn.go.com/espn/blog/index?entryID=3538511&name=law_keith

In the comments he adds:

"And that '$3.5 million' offer from the Nats to Crow isn't what it seems. I should have more on that later in the week, but let's just say that you need to consider that Jim Bowden has an agenda when he's talking to the press about this mistake."

I'm looking forward to reading more about this. No matter what Bowden says, it seems mind-blowingly incompetent, given the demonstrated willingness of players to sit out a year, to draft a player without knowing exactly what it's going to take to sign the player and knowing that your budget will allow it.

Daniel said...

I think Bowden screwed up if he knew what Crow would ask for and drafted him anyway, knowing they wouldn't pay it.

However, there seems to be fault with both sides on the negotiating process. Crow didn't get the MRI the Nationals wanted him to get. Communication seemed sparse from the Crow camp until late. $500k isn't a lot of money to have thrown out there to get Crow signed, if that was really the difference at the end of the day, but I don't see how all the blame is Bowden's.

Peter said...

At face value, asking a player to have an MRI doesn't seem strange, but if you're a little bit suspicious of Bowden in the first place you start wondering whether they might use the MRI as leverage to drive down Crow's price or scare him away from entering the draft next year. I'm not a doctor, but I'd guess that there's some gray area when it comes to MRIs. Perhaps Crow's reps were concerned about him getting nitpicked.

And it doesn't even sound like there was an offer on the table and all that was left was the MRI...sounds like Bowden's position was "Well you take the MRI and then we'll see what it shows and make you an offer". That seems reasonable in a vacuum, but I don't think that's how it's usually done with the draft (especially considering that by this point the Nats had already invested such a high pick in him), so I could understand how Crow's reps might get the idea that the Nats were playing games.

It's just my opinion, but it sounds like Bowden was more focused on plausible deniability (the MRI, the last minute offer, etc) to cover for his organization's incompetence in drafting a player they wouldn't/couldn't sign than actually signing the player.

Daniel said...

I've heard in a couple places that asking for a medical exam prior to offering a major league deal is fairly common. And according to Bowden, they offered a major league deal, although the specifics of that deal were not revealed, iirc. So it's possible the deal was a major league deal, but was such a lowball offer that Crow didn't think it was worth it.

Bowden's major mistake was drafting a guy who they would have trouble signing. But that doesn't excuse the way Crow's camp handled the negotiation process, even if Bowden was in CYA mode once he realized the negotiations were souring. At the end of the day you have a 21 year old kid who turned down a $3.5 million payday (or $3.3 million or w/e, depending on whether that $3.5 was legitimate) and who may blow out his arm or struggle in the next year and wind up with a fraction of that. It's a big gamble on Crow's part, but I'm thinking he wasn't so excited about suiting up for the Nationals.

Mr. Thursday said...

"I'm hear to negotiate a double date. You and me, Amy and Kif. I propose we go on 10 dates."

"Zero."

"Excellent! Let the negotiations begin. Nine dates."

"Zero."

"Eight."

"Zero."

"Five dates, and that's my final offer. Four."