SARASOTA, Fla. - Not only did the Orioles receive the news earlier today that outfielder Dexter Fowler decided to re-sign with his old team, they later absorbed thunderous blows from his agent via a statement.
Casey Close didn’t pull any punches. And Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette, in a much calmer but firm tone, didn’t take them lying down.
Fowler shocked the industry, at least outside Cubs camp, but showing up today and signing a one-year, $8 million contract that includes a $9 million mutual option and $5 million buyout. He turned down their $15.8 million qualifying offer.
“In my 25 years in this business, never before have I witnessed such irresponsible behavior on so many fronts,” Close wrote in a statement posted on Excel Sports Management’s Twitter account. “Both the Orioles front office and members of the media were so busy recklessly spreading rumors that they forgot or simply chose not to concern themselves with the truth.
“The Orioles’ willful disregard of collectively bargained rules governing free agency and the media’s eager complicity in helping the Orioles violate those rules are reprehensible. Dexter Fowler never reached agreement with the Orioles and did not come close to signing with the club; any suggestion otherwise is only a continuation of an already disturbing trend.”
Meanwhile, multiple sources confirmed on Tuesday that Fowler agreed to a three-year, $33 million deal with the Orioles. He was expected to arrive in Sarasota today to take his physical. Center fielder Adam Jones said he spoke to Fowler, who relayed how excited he was to join the team.
“He should be on his way here now,” Jones said yesterday morning.
Duquette was approached by reporters tonight at the Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce reception, seeking a response to Close’s scathing accusations.
“I’m not sure what that statement is about, because his job is to represent his player,” Duquette said.
Close obviously was calling the Orioles’ integrity into question, choosing to do so two days after reports surfaced of their agreement. Not a word before tonight.
“I didn’t really see it that way,” Duquette replied. “We were sincere in our efforts to sign the player.
“If the player chooses to take less money to go with another team, that’s their choice.”
Taking one last poke at Close’s statement, Duquette added, “What’s he going to say now, that it’s not about the money?”
This controversy is not going away.