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08/16/08 12:50 AM ET
Reds sign first-round pick Alonso
Club agrees to terms with first baseman before deadline
By Mark Sheldon / MLB.com
CINCINNATI -- It went down to the wire, but when midnight ET struck and moved Friday into Saturday, first-round Draft pick Yonder Alonso was signed and sealed as a member of the Reds. After they were seemingly far apart most of the day, a deal was reached shortly before the looming deadline. Terms were not revealed, but Alonso signed a Major League contract through 2012 that is believed to be worth $4.5 million, plus incentives. "There was a lot of negotiating on both sides," Reds scouting director Chris Buckley said. Alonso, the No. 7 overall pick in the 2008 First-Year Player Draft out of the University of Miami, and agent Greg Genske had made it public that he was seeking $7 million and didn't appear willing to budge. Obviously, they did in the end. What helped bring the dollar figure down? "Midnight," Buckley responded. "We've got a deadline. If it wasn't done, it's a reality that he would be a college senior. This is your last big year with the leverage." General manager Walt Jocketty said late Friday afternoon that the Reds had made their final offer to Alonso and were waiting to hear back. But talks continued well into the night. "There was a lot of massaging the deal," Buckley said. Several first-round picks from the 2008 Draft remained unsigned as the deadline approached. On Friday, the Orioles signed No. 4 pick Brian Matusz to a $3.47 million deal with a big league contract. The No. 6 pick, Buster Posey, also signed a big deal with the Giants believed to be worth more than $6 million. By signing the 22-year-old Alonso to a Major League deal, the Reds have to place the first baseman on their 40-man roster. But that was a lesser concern for the club during negotiations. "One, we think he'll be here quickly," Reds assistant GM Bob Miller said. "It's not like we're worried about the [Minor League] options. The other issue is we have a lot of free agents and have some room. If it would have been a really tight roster, it would have been much more difficult." An obvious question surrounds where Alonso will play once he reaches the Majors. The Reds already have a young rookie first baseman in Joey Votto. "He played first most of the time at Miami, but Miami had a good third baseman," Buckley said. "We think he can play third base. He can definitely play first. He may be able to play third." During his junior season at Miami, Alonso batted .370 with 24 home runs and 72 RBIs. Alonso has not played baseball since the College World Series in June. The Reds haven't formally assigned him to a team in their system, but the plan is to have him go to their Minor League complex in Sarasota, Fla., and work with either the Gulf Coast League club or Class A team. The Reds inked two other Draft picks on Friday, with 30th-round selection Juan Sulbaran and 35th-rounder Matthew Fairel agreeing to deals. Both are pitchers. This year, the organization signed 35 of its 50 Draft picks.
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.