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D-Train's value soaring


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BERARDINO: D-Train's value soaring

Book reveals he'll likely be eligible for salary arbitration.Published June 10, 2005

 

MIAMI GARDENS -- Dontrelle Willis has a favorite saying. He uses it so much it has been adopted by one of his agents and closest friends, Matt Sosnick.

 

"Do not mistake my kindness or goodwill for weakness," Willis likes to say. "Because if you do that, you're going to end up being very surprised."

 

This is just one of many fascinating Willis-related revelations in Jerry Crasnick's excellent new book, License to Steal: A Season on the Run With a Maverick Baseball Agent.

 

The book doesn't focus exclusively on the San Francisco-based Sosnick and his business partner, Paul Cobbe. But it spends enough time on their most famous client to give the Marlins sweaty palms.

 

See, at 10-2, Willis isn't just halfway to becoming the first 20-game winner in franchise history. The Marlins' ever-entertaining lefty, featured on the cover of the July issue of Sports Illustrated For Kids, isn't just back to the lofty heights he achieved as baseball's top rookie in that dream season of 2003.

 

At 23, he's also closing in on his first big payday.

 

According to the book, Sosnick called the Players Association in February and learned Willis would likely qualify for salary arbitration for the first time this winter. A National League source confirmed Thursday that Willis is expected to rank among the top 17 percent of big leaguers with between two and three years of service time.

 

What does that "Super 2" status mean for the Marlins? Would you believe a $3.5 million hit?

 

Instead of being able to maintain the hard line on his salary, which has risen slowly from $300,000 to $378,500 this year, the Marlins could be on the hook for as much as $4 million next season. All because Willis was brought up on May 9 his rookie year instead of a week or so later.

 

Miguel Cabrera came up in late June and will have to wait another season for his lotto ticket.

 

The $4 million estimate comes from a rival agent who points to the arbitration awards granted to Blue Jays ace Roy Halladay ($3.85 million) and Cubs workhorse Carlos Zambrano ($3.67 million) at similar stages of their careers.

 

"Dontrelle," the agent said, "is going to break the bank if he keeps this up."

 

Wednesday's gutsy win over the Mariners pushed Willis to 34-19 (.642) in the big leagues to go with a 3.40 career ERA. He has never missed a start, so durability isn't an issue.

 

Including the minors, which arbitrators won't, he is 61-24 (.718) in five-plus pro seasons.

 

Strangely, Marlins attendance has actually decreased 12 percent for his eight home starts this year, but that can be explained in large part by four weekday outings. Dontrelle Mania aside, there's no denying what he means to the franchise.

 

All of which makes him a prime candidate for a multiyear contract.

 

"He's the right kind of kid for that," one National League scout said.

 

If the Dodgers can guarantee $26 million over three years to sore-armed Brad Penny, as they did this week, what is the D-Train worth? Four years at $20 million might be a good place to start.

 

Willis said he hasn't been approached about an extension, but would be open to the idea.

 

"Wouldn't anybody?" he said.

 

Unfortunately, considering the tenor of Crasnick's book, cutting a deal -- now or ever -- might be difficult for the Marlins.

 

Sosnick, according to the book, was miffed Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria allegedly reneged on a promise to send Willis on a free Las Vegas trip after his rookie year. Sosnick, a ferocious negotiator, also threatened to charge the Marlins $50,000 for every request they made for Willis to sign memorabilia or make public appearances.

 

While the agent backed off, Sosnick is quoted making some angry statements about the club's pay scale.

 

"Insulting and embarrassing," Sosnick termed Willis' bargain-basement pay.

 

Sosnick presented the club with data showing Willis brought an additional $3 million into their coffers as a rookie, including ticket sales and merchandising. The Marlins essentially shrugged.

 

"Dontrelle and I are about goodwill and trying to do the right thing," Sosnick told Crasnick. "When I felt like they sort of punished me and my client, I have absolutely no loyalty to them anymore. I mean, can you imagine them ever asking me for a favor to do anything?"

 

Sosnick runs a small shop, so the contract he eventually negotiates for Willis -- who hasn't seen the book -- is already getting built up to mythic proportions.

 

"This deal right here is going to be paramount to my business," Sosnick said in the book, adding future clients will be watching closely. "I want to be known as a good guy, and so does [Willis]. I also want to get him a ton of money."

 

With every win, the price climbs a little higher.

 

Mike Berardino can be reached at [email protected]

 

 

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4 years for $20M would be a good deal for both sides.

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4 yr 5mill per year is a bargain and Berandino proves he dont know jack. Willis will get more than Pavano got.

 

Willis not only will make a ton from (hopefully the Marlins) a team but he will break the bank in endorsements. He is one of only, I think, 4 African American starting pitchers in MLB and he is by far the best. He will be such a marketing/commercial success, the sky truely is the limit for Dontrelle. All he has to do pitch well, and MLB will get their golden goose.

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4 yr 5mill per year is a bargain and Berandino proves he dont know jack. Willis will get more than Pavano got.

 

Willis not only will make a ton from (hopefully the Marlins) a team but he will break the bank in endorsements. He is one of only, I think, 4 African American starting pitchers in MLB and he is by far the best. He will be such a marketing/commercial success, the sky truely is the limit for Dontrelle. All he has to do pitch well, and MLB will get their golden goose.

805316[/snapback]

 

Great points.. he's a really charismatic and great guy, and good looking too. This guy is going to be one of the Top 5 faces of the league in due time.

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Between Willis, Beckett, Burnett, Cabrera, Gonzales, Castillo, Lowell, and Pierre, this team is probably going to DRASTICALLY change in the next 3 years or so. Between all of those players listed, how many do you think will still be with the Marlins in 3 years? I say:

 

Willis

Beckett

Cabrera

Castillo

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Between Willis, Beckett, Burnett, Cabrera, Gonzales, Castillo, Lowell, and Pierre, this team is probably going to DRASTICALLY change in the next 3 years or so. Between all of those players listed, how many do you think will still be with the Marlins in 3 years? I say:

 

Willis

Beckett

Cabrera

Castillo

805344[/snapback]

 

Add Delgado and Lowell to the list, and probably Gonzalez if he keeps hitting the way he has.

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lol while that is the ideal situation for us Marlin fans, it's not the world we live in. Most of those guys on that list are just too good to not want to cash in on their value. And of those guys on that list, I would say at least Pierre and Burnett are prime candidates to go to the Yankees.

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Guest Moneyball

I understand Delgado because of his contract.? But Lowell and Gonzalez as well?? Where are they gonna come up with the money to pay all these guys? The payroll would have to go up by 15 million a year.

805352[/snapback]

 

Lowell signed a 4 year contract after the 2003 season.

 

Add LoDuca to the list to. He signed a 3 year contract wih us before the season.

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Guest Fritz

I understand Delgado because of his contract. But Lowell and Gonzalez as well? Where are they gonna come up with the money to pay all these guys? The payroll would have to go up by 15 million a year.

805352[/snapback]

 

Lowell signed a 4 year contract after the 2003 season.

 

Add LoDuca to the list to. He signed a 3 year contract wih us before the season.

805372[/snapback]

*Still trying to forget that*

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I understand Delgado because of his contract. But Lowell and Gonzalez as well? Where are they gonna come up with the money to pay all these guys? The payroll would have to go up by 15 million a year.

805352[/snapback]

 

Lowell signed a 4 year contract after the 2003 season.

 

Add LoDuca to the list to. He signed a 3 year contract wih us before the season.

805372[/snapback]

yea, but their contracts expire in two years

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Guest Juanky

Between Willis, Beckett, Burnett, Cabrera, Gonzales, Castillo, Lowell, and Pierre, this team is probably going to DRASTICALLY change in the next 3 years or so. Between all of those players listed, how many do you think will still be with the Marlins in 3 years? I say:

 

Willis

Beckett

Cabrera

Castillo

805344[/snapback]

Lowell, Delgado, and Lo Duca all signed multiyear deals. Also, I believe Pierre and Willis will be a package deal for the team they plan on.

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