May 2, 2004

Is This Pedro's Last Year In Boston? Michael Silverman of the Herald broke the story: "Every team in the majors, including the Yankees, will get a crack at signing free-agent-to-be Pedro Martinez next year after the Red Sox ace halted negotiations with the team yesterday. Martinez told the Boston Herald he would pursue free agency at the end of this season after never receiving a long-term contract extension offer from the ballclub this winter and spring."

Pedro had originally said he'd explore the market if he hadn't signed an extension by Opening Day, but that deadline had been extended by one month. Martinez said he wished he "could say, truly, that I was going to stay in Boston, but now they're going to have to compete with the rest of the league." He added: "I gave them every opportunity, every discount I could give them to actually stay in Boston and they never took advantage of it. Didn't even give me an offer." ... Theo Epstein had no comment.

Pedro accuses Red Sox management of lying and playing dirty by leaking concerns about his shoulder to the media. Pedro said he "made moves from my salary to come down all the way where I could without falling below anybody I didn't feel like I had to fall below, and they never made any movement." ... This is interesting. Who is this "anybody"? Curt Schilling? ... Finally: "I'll play for anybody ... Boston has probably the same chances the Yankees will have." ... Karen Guregian adds her two cents and Nick Cafardo asks if ownership is playing hardball.

What I think it means: Pedro is signed through the 2004 season and the Red Sox are content to wait until November to judge both his performance and health before making any long-term decisions. It's the same thing they are doing with Nomar, Varitek and Lowe. And it's smart business. ... The team will make what it believes is a fair offer in the fall and Pedro will either take it or go elsewhere.

At this point, Martinez has no leverage -- he's not going to scare Henry into making an above-market offer. This must be a move Martinez feels he has to make in the negotiation dance, although he surely knows it will piss off a majority of fans. Coupled with his poor outing last night in Texas, sports radio and certain writers in Boston are going to have a field day with this (Dirt Dogs is off and running).

A SoSH poster notes: "This statement by Pedro means nothing. Not letting a player test the FA waters only makes sense *if* that player is willing to give you a hometown discount. If a player makes it clear that he doesn't want to give you a hometown discount, then there is no point in 'locking him up' before he hits FA, because you still end up paying him the same amount, only you remove your own flexibility a lot earlier, and if said player has a misread on the current market, you might even save yourself some money."

How many bidders will Martinez have when he files? Every major league team knows his history and those that can afford him will be watching him carefully this year. ... Some fans have wondered if Pedro will now take it easy this season, so as not to risk arm damage. I don't think so. With the Red Sox adopting a wait-and-see posture, Martinez is effectively showcasing himself for his next (and last) contract. He has to stay healthy and effective. That can be nothing but a plus for Boston.

Cafardo's article also contains this gem: "Martinez did ask reporters, after he said his piece, to respect his wishes of not asking questions pertaining to his contract for the rest of the season." ... This is where Pedro screws up. I'd rather he spoke to the media, but I won't rip him if he doesn't. But to suddenly make this pronouncement to the writers he's been avoiding and then ask them to leave him alone again is hypocritical. ... I love Pedro and hope he stays in Boston -- and I trust Red Sox management to do the right thing for the team.

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