Bowden details Crow negotiations
Nationals unable to reach deal with first-round pick by deadline
WASHINGTON -- Fewer than 24 hours after announcing that the Nationals did not sign right-hander Aaron Crow, their first-round pick in the 2008 First-Year Player Draft, general manager Jim Bowden gave a detailed account of the negotiations with Crow's advisers, Alan and Randy Hendricks.
According to Bowden, Washington didn't hear from the Hendricks brothers about a dollar figure until 6 p.m. ET on Tuesday, when they requested $9 million and a Major League contract. Bowden wanted Alan Hendricks to justify the amount, but according to Bowden, Hendricks never gave him an explanation. The Nationals have never given a first-round pick that kind of money.
Most of the negotiations were done via e-mail, according to Bowden.
"We asked them where $9 million came from," Bowden said. "He would not do it verbally. We gave them a number from Day 1.
"The only thing we were told on the day of the Draft was that they wanted a Major League contract and an out-of-the-box deal" -- meaning a dollar figure well above the going rate.
Randy Hendricks declined to give details, but provided an estimation of the Crow camp's final offer.
"The only relevant thing at this point is that Bowden and the Nationals had an opportunity to sign Aaron for halfway between what Yonder Alonso and Justin Smoak signed for late Friday night, and they declined to do so," Hendricks said in an e-mail message.
According to Baseball America, the Reds signed Alonso, the seventh overall pick, for $4.55 million in guaranteed money, while Smoak, the 11th overall pick, received a $3.5 million signing bonus from the Rangers.
Originally, the Nationals were adamant that they would not give Crow a Major League contract. They wanted to sign him to a deal similar to that of pitcher Ross Detwiler, the team's 2007 first-round pick who received a $2.15 million signing bonus.
The club later raised its offer to Crow to $2.2 million and then $2.25 million.
Eventually, the Nationals capitulated to more of Crow's demands. At 10:30 p.m. ET on Friday, they offered Crow a Major League contract with a $3 million bonus, which they later upped to $3.3 million.
At 11:59 p.m. ET, Washington verbally went to $3.5 million, $300,000 more than fourth overall pick Brian Matusz's signing bonus with the Orioles, signed on Friday.
"The minute Matusz signed with Baltimore, I called Randy Hendricks and said, 'Brian Matusz, the fourth player taken in the country, just signed with Baltimore. We are prepared to do a deal in that framework if you want,'" Bowden recalled.
"He responded via e-mail: 'We have no interest in the Matusz deal and we have no interest in a deal below Matusz.'"
Bowden continued: "We offered Crow more than any other pitcher got in this Draft. ... That's how we value the player. We never offered a Major league contract to a first-round pick. We offered a Major League contract to this player. That's how we value the player."
It wasn't until 11:44 p.m. ET on Friday when the Hendricks brothers came down from $9 million to $4.4 million. Before the clock struck midnight, however, the Nationals took the Major League contract off the table in their final $3.5 million offer, because Crow didn't have time to take an MRI on his elbow and shoulder.
"The Major League contract was on the table up until the time we could no longer do an MRI," Bowden said. "When it got to the point where we couldn't do an MRI, we explained to them we could no longer do a Major League contract. In fact, their final offer to us was a Minor League contract as well."
The Nationals then called Crow's father, Kevin, to inform him the kind of money that was being rejected. According to Bowden, Kevin, said, "Look, I'm tired. My advisers, Randy and Alan Hendricks, are handling the negotiations. They are making the decisions."
Aaron and Kevin Crow were not available for comment.
Aaron Crow will now play for the Fort Worth Cats of the American Association of Independent Professional Baseball, while the Nationals will get a No. 9a pick as compensation in next year's Draft. That would mean Washington would have two top 10 picks. If the season ended today, Washington would get the first overall pick because it has the worst record in baseball.
"We lost one really good player, but 10 months from now, we can get the exact same caliber player," Bowden said. "We know there is a lot of pitching in next year's Draft. We feel confident that our [No. 9a] pick next year will be a talent similar to Crow."
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.