Somebody might want to explain to Odalis Perez that he had all winter to "renegotiate" his contract not only with the Nationals, but with any other team in baseball. After shopping himself around, apparently, the Nationals offer of a minor league deal that would pay him $850-thousand if he were to make the club was the best he could find. Now, as he's supposed to be in camp fighting for his old job back, he says he again wants to renegotiate.
For their part, the Nationals say that they have a signed terms sheet that has been confirmed by the players' union, meaning that Perez should be in camp with the rest of the pitchers. However, The Washington Post has reported that one of their sources did a check of an MLBPA database of approved contracts and that Perez' deal with the Nationals isn't listed.
Perez had agreed to terms back on February 5th for reportedly the same amount of money that he made last season when he made the Nationals opening day roster and went on to make 30 starts for the team. It was actually a pretty surprising deal, because with Perez' 4.34 ERA last season, it might have figured that he would be able to cash in for at least a little more money somewhere and it's likely that's what he was banking on getting.
Now, he's scuffling to come up with something better.
Technically, Perez has until Sunday (February 22) to report to camp before he would face disciplinary action. While he was on the Dominican Republic's preliminary roster for the World Baseball Classic, he had reportedly told the Nationals that he would instead stay in camp to battle for a job. Now, he's saying that he may pitch for the Dominican Republic as a way of showcasing himself for other teams or getting more money out of the Nationals. In a loophole, players who are playing in the WBC do not have to report by Sunday, which would give Perez more time before he would face any potential disciplinary actions.
Perez told ESPNdeportes.com that "I prefer to sit in my house if the Nationals do not show more appreciation for my work."
"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," said Perez from his home in the Dominican Republic.
While the Nationals could use Perez for their rotation, there is no reason for them to cave on the offer that Perez had initially accepted. Even if it means that he signs elsewhere and with no compensation for the Nationals, he should be made to honor his deal or at the very least, the Nationals should receive compensation. One scenario would have the Nationals give his agent time to negotiate a new deal with another club that Perez would find to his liking and then work out a suitable trade or financial arrangement to purchase Perez' contract from the Nationals. Then, the new team could simply give him the new contract that they negotiated with him.
This isn't just a case of how much the Nationals may need Perez. It's a case of a deal being a deal and the Nationals have to be careful that they don't set the wrong precedent with this case. Simply letting Perez out of his agreed to deal would be exactly the wrong precedent, as would renegotiating the deal with him. Where this gets interesting is in that MLBPA database. If they don't have the contract listed as approved, then, an argument can be made that Perez never gave the okay for the deal. In that case, the Nationals would simply have to produce that signed terms sheet that they reportedly have and continue the argument.
No matter what the outcome, it appears this could be an interesting test of wills. Maybe, Perez will pitch in the WBC and pitch horribly. Let's see how quickly he would embrace that 850-thousand then. If his performance is especially horrid, maybe the Nationals will instead decide to go with the MLBPA database and pull the deal. Yes, this could be very interesting.