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02/13/09 7:25 PM EST
Mariners, first-round pick Fields agree
Former Georgia closer was selected 20th overall in 2008 Draft
By Jim Street / MLB.com
PEORIA, Ariz. -- The Mariners have reached an agreement on a contract with Josh Fields, their first-round selection in last June's First-Year Player Draft. A Major League source said the deal was done, pending Fields passing a physical. He would then begin a professional career that was delayed by a $500,000 gap between the $2 million deal he wanted and the $1.5 million the Mariners were offering. Details of the contract were not immediately known and it was unclear whether he would be invited to the Major League camp, which starts Saturday morning at the Peoria Sports Complex. Mariners club officials could not be reached for comment, but it is standard procedure for them to not discuss any deals until they are finalized. Fields did not return a phone call left on his answering machine. The 23-year-old University of Georgia closer was the Southeastern Conference Pitcher of the Year last season while helping the Bulldogs reach the finals of the NCAA College World Series. The Mariners selected him with the 20th overall selection, expecting him to sign soon after the World Series and perhaps become part of the Mariners bullpen in September. But on the advice of his advisor, Scott Boras, Fields rejected the Mariners' offer and neither side budged for the remainder of the year. General manager Jack Zduriencik, has been negotiating with Boras for the past couple of months, hoping to get the young pitcher signed, preferably before Spring Training started. Fields had the option of either signing or holding out until late May, when he would have become eligible for the Draft. As a college senior, he did not have the Aug. 15 signing deadline that underclassmen face.
Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.