As I mentioned earlier today, Odalis Perez is one of two Nationals pitchers who have not reported to spring training yet. The other, Jorge Sosa, is battling visa issues. I assumed Perez was dealing with the same. But it looks like that’s not the case.
According to a report on ESPNdeportes.com, Perez is holding out and won’t report until the Nats give him a better contract. Perez verbally agreed to terms on a nonguaranteed, minor-league contract on Feb. 5 that would pay him $850,000 if he makes the Nats’ roster. It’s a similar deal to the one he signed with Washington last spring (he wound up making the team and started on Opening Night).
Now, Perez says that deal wasn’t good enough. “I thought it best and I prefer to sit in my house if the Nationals do not show more appreciation for my work,” he said in the ESPNdeportes.com report. “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.”
“We agreed to terms on a contract with Odalis Perez,” general manager Jim Bowden said. “The contract has been recognized and confirmed with both the players’ association and [MLB’s] labor relations department. And we expect Odalis Perez to fulfill his contract, as we’ve prepared to fulfill our end of it.
“We have a verbal agreement and a signed term sheet, and it’s been acknowledged by both sides,” Bowden added. “And it’s binding. We expect him to honor his contract to the team and honor his agreement to the team.”
A call placed to Perez’s cell number was met with a recorded message sayinig it’s not currently accepting calls.
When asked earlier today about Perez not being in camp yet, Acta said: “We’re trying to get a hold of him and find out about him being here. I’m sure that guys don’t want to miss the first reporting date, but until [Feb.] 22nd, we don’t make a big deal out of it.”
Feb. 22 is the mandatory reporting date for all major-leaguers not participating in the World Baseball Classic. Any players who have not reported by then are subject to discipline by their clubs. However, Perez says in the Web report that he intends to pitch for the Dominican Republic in the WBC as a way to showcase his talents to other clubs. He’s listed on the Dominican’s provisional roster for the tournament. The mandatory reporting date for players in the WBC is Feb. 17 (tomorrow).
Thus, in theory, if Perez doesn’t report to Nats camp tomorrow, the team could attempt to discipline him. When asked about that, though, Bowden said the Nationals consider Feb. 22 the mandatory reporting date for Perez at this time.
- Mark Zuckerman