You may remember back to a couple of weeks ago when we told you about Dontrelle Willis and his strange communication breakdown with the front office staff of the Baltimore Orioles in getting his release from their Triple A affiliate in Norfolk.
Basically, Willis signed on with the Orioles after getting released by the Philadelphia Phillies. They sent him to the Minor Leagues where he was used primarily as a reliever. The left handed pitcher didn’t really want to be used as a reliever, and so he spoke with the team’s front office and told him he’d rather seek employment elsewhere than pitch out of the bullpen.
He then left the team in Norfolk expecting to be released from his contract, only to find that he had been placed on the restricted list, making ineligible to sign on with another organization. He then proceeded to file a grievance against the Orioles for refusing his release.
Well, according to ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick, all has been forgiven, well, most at least. The pitcher has agreed to drop his grievance after the Orioles promised to allow him to start after he builds up enough arm strength at extended Spring Training. Obviously, the team had time to see Tommy Hunter, and then decided that nothing could be as bad as that.
Matt Sosnick, Willis’ agent, calls it like it is, and maybe reveals a little bit as to what it’s like to deal with the Baltimore Orioles:
This is what we suggested to the Orioles in the first place. I have no idea why it became so acrimonious. Cooler heads finally prevailed.
The acrimony of which Sosnick speaks reared its ugly head prior to the grievance being filed and today’s settlement. It was heavily rumoured that Willis was talking to a team from Japan that had shown interest prior to realizing that he was still on the Orioles’ restricted list.
This leads us to the best quote I’ve ever read from an agent, and certainly the best thing said in baseball this season.
I have not been contacted by any Asian team about Dontrelle. But I know that [Orioles GM] Dan [Duquette] has closer ties to Korea than I do, so maybe he knows something that I don’t know.
Of course, what Sosnick was back handedly referring to is this:
During the off season, the Korean Baseball Association (KBA) placed a ban on Baltimore Orioles scouts, prohibiting them from attending any organized game in South Korea. The repercussions were the result of a kerfuffle that the Orioles caused when they convinced 17 year old left handed pitcher Kim Seong-Min to forego his final year of high school in his homeland to sign a $550,000 contract.
You see, the KBA doesn’t typically appreciate direct contact between Major League Baseball teams and high school players that haven’t completed their studies, and in response to the Orioles involvement, levied a punishment against the franchise.
Interpretation from all of this: general manager Dan Duquette isn’t all that easy to deal with.
You may also remember Sosnick as the subject of Crasnick’s book License To Deal.