THE HOLDOUT...THE FINAL HOURS...
In hindsight, any sort of commentary from 31-year-old left-handed hurler Odalis Perez was conspicuously absent in reports of last year's Opening Night starter agreeing on a Minor League contract with the Washington Nationals back in the first week of February. MLB.com's Bill Ladson's article entitled, "Perez to return on Minor League deal", did, however, mention the "huge pay cut" that Perez was taking, "...from the $7.7 million he made while pitching for the Royals in '07," in agreeing on the same non-guaranteed $850,000 dollar deal he had signed with Washington after holding out until after Spring Training had started last season.
After finishing the '08 season with a (7-12) record in 30 starts and 159.2 IP over which he allowed 77 earned runs, 22 HR's and 55 walks while striking out 119 and posting a 4.34 ERA, (with 5 of his 7 wins coming after the All-Star break), Odalis Perez told the Nationals, through his agent, that he was interested in returning to DC, but was going to look at the market before deciding where he would pitch in 2009. With no other, or better, offer out there for Perez, he reportedly agreed to the minor league deal with DC and was a good bet for a starting role, but guaranteed at least a chance to compete against the next generation of the Nationals' young arms for a spot in the '09 rotation.
Sometime after signing the deal, Odalis Perez decided that he was unhappy with the agreement. Eleven days after signing on to return to DC, Perez told the Nationals, through ESPNdeportes.com reporter Enrique Rojas in an article entitled, "Perez regrets giving approval to deal":
"'I thought it best and I prefer to sit in my house if the Nationals do not show more appreciation for my work,’ Perez said from Santo Domingo.
"'Appreciate my work means to increase the value of the contract and guarantee it. I will not accept any minor league contracts with no safeguards. I instructed my agent to report my position to the Nationals,’ Perez said. He also added that he's not negotiating with other clubs."
Considering that DC Manager Manny Acta told Mr. Rojas that, "The team informed me that there is a contract between the Nationals and Odalis in the commisioner's office," how exactly Perez was planning on negotiating with other teams is a question for a lawyer, but either way Perez told the ESPNdeportes reporter that he would use the World Baseball Classic as a showcase for his talents and, "...hope to find a team that values me, otherwise I'll go home."
Perez failed to materialize with the other pitchers and catchers who reported to Viera, Florida's Space Coast Stadium on February 14th, the first day of Spring Training, failed to meet the February 17th date for anyone under contract and planning to participate in next month's World Baseball Classic, and now has apparently failed to turn up in time to avoid forcing the Washington Nationals to take action against a player who is in violation of a signed contract.
...And just when you thought it couldn't get worse, Washington Post writer Chico Harlan comes through with a Nationals Journal post entitled, "Bowden: Pick Up The Phone Odalis", in which the DC GM Jim Bowden tells Mr. Harlan:
"He has not returned my calls, has not returned Manny(Acta)'s calls, he has not returned his agents calls. So we're waiting to hear back from him."
Should the Washington Nationals take the advice of Yahoo! Sports' writer Tim Brown, who wrote yesterday in an article entitled, "Nationals have to find some direction", that Odalis Perez's holdout was a "laughable play" to which the Nationals should respond with a release? Should the Nationals even let Odalis Perez come to camp at this point? The Washington Post's Chico Harlan has promised to provide a report as soon as there's a resolution...I'm sure the entirety of the DC Faithful is holding its collective breath...(ed. note - "No offense to Mr. Harlan...I'd just rather have Shawn Hill or Jordan Zimmerman(n) in the rotation anyway...Sorry, Odalis. Good luck in the WBC...if you can make that starting rotation...What? He's holding out...Should I stick up for him?" Zimmerman(n)!! Zimmerman(n)!! He's like the next Collin Balester!!")