View Full Version : Diamondbacks Eat Ortiz's $22 Million Deal

06-14-2006, 11:28 AM
Diamondbacks Eat Ortiz's $22 Million Deal
By ANDREW BAGNATO, The Associated Press
Jun 13, 2006 6:18 PM (17 hrs ago)

PHOENIX - The Arizona Diamondbacks decided Tuesday they would rather eat the remaining $22 million of Russ Ortiz's contract than keep him on their roster.

Ortiz is believed to be the most expensive player to be cut loose in baseball history.

The club designated the struggling right-hander for assignment, which means it has 10 days to trade, waive or release him. The team is on the hook for the balance of the $33-million, four-year contract Ortiz signed in December 2004, a figure general manager Josh Byrnes said was close to $22 million.

The 32-year-old Ortiz was 0-5 with a 7.54 ERA in six starts for Arizona this season, and he was 1-14 in his last 19 starts dating to last May.

"We're like most clubs: every dollar counts. You want to spend them as effectively as possible," Byrnes said at a Chase Field news conference. "That affected the decision, but we also were true to ourselves, and we want to put our best 25 on the field and try to win games. That led us to our decision.

"We have to spend all our dollars wisely, and obviously we owe Russ a lot of money going forward," Byrnes said. "The flip side is we probably have more young talent than anyone in baseball, and that's a good thing as managing the payroll."

In a corresponding move, the club purchased the contract of left-hander Randy Choate from Triple-A Tucson. Choate, who was 3-0 with five saves and a 2.45 ERA in Tucson, will pitch out of the bullpen. The Diamondbacks haven't announced who will take Ortiz' slot in the rotation Saturday at Texas.

Ortiz's ouster comes during a tumultuous 11-day homestand for the Diamondbacks, who led the NL West by 2 1-2 games when they returned from a 7-3 road trip June 4.

Heading into Tuesday night's game against San Francisco, the Diamondbacks had dropped the first seven games of the homestand and fell one game behind Los Angeles.

One of the losses was a three-hit complete game by New York's Orlando Hernandez, who was traded by Arizona two weeks earlier.

Last Tuesday, the Diamondbacks were blindsided by news reports that federal agents had searched Grimsley's Scottsdale home June 6 in an investigation into performance-enhancing drugs. The team released the reliever last week and doesn't want to pay him the remainder of his $825,000 salary. Grimsley was suspended Monday for 50 games by commissioner Bud Selig.

"There were a lot of things going on for a team that was playing pretty well," manager Bob Melvin said. "More than anything, we just want to get settled."

On Sunday, Ortiz was booed heavily by the Chase Field crowd as he gave up five earned runs in 3 1-3 innings of an eventual 15-2 loss to the Mets, which completed a four-game sweep.

Melvin said he thought Ortiz's mechanics had improved after a recent minor-league stint but added that the pitcher had "a lot of baggage" here.

"It's tough to get through sometimes that when you've struggled in one particular place for so long," Melvin said. "The change of scenery might be the best thing in the world for him. He could clear his head, and he doesn't have some of the negativity in the record and so forth that he had here. We wish him the best and hope that the next place is a better place for him."

Ortiz was not immediately available for comment.

He was signed in December 2004, one day after Arizona gave free agent third baseman Troy Glaus a $45-million, four-year deal. The deals created a buzz over the aggressive rebuilding strategy by the ownership group that took control in August 2004, near the end of a 51-111 season. Nineteen months later, both players are gone. After one year, the Diamondbacks dealt Glaus to Toronto for pitcher Miguel Batista and second baseman Orlando Hudson, who have both contributed this season.

When Ortiz arrived in Arizona, he had a career 103-60 record and had never been on the disabled list. He spent parts of each season with Arizona on the disabled list, with a rib cage injury in 2005 and a calf injury this year.

But even when Ortiz was healthy he was ineffective, and the Diamondbacks finally ran out of patience.

"We tried a lot of different things and it just wasn't working, so we decided to give someone else a shot," said Byrnes, who replaced Garagiola last October.

Now this is a guy I think we must take a look at. His is 32, and still may have something left in the tank. Also, getting back with Rags may put him back on track!

Honus Wagner Rules
06-14-2006, 12:48 PM
Plus, the Giants could sign him on the cheap.

06-14-2006, 12:53 PM
A very good point. Plus he liked playing for the Giants and was a fan favorite. Sing him to a minor league contract and let hi pitch there for a few weeks and then bring him up and see what he can do. He was a reliever in the minors and was very good in that role. So at 32 as a starter or reliever I think this guy would be a help! :dance

06-14-2006, 01:06 PM
The D'Backs signing of Ortiz was dumb from the get-go. They clearly focused in on his W-L record and failed to look at his failing performance variables.

Angels ate a similar contract a few years ago with Kevin Appier.

06-14-2006, 01:08 PM
Diamondbacks cut ex-Giants righty Ortiz
Henry Schulman
Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Phoenix -- Former Giants right-hander Russ Ortiz set a major-league record, although not a happy one. When the Diamondbacks designated him for assignment Tuesday, he had $22.5 million left on his four-year contract, the most money eaten by a team cutting a player.

What an odd turn Ortiz's career has taken since the Giants traded him to Atlanta after he helped them win a pennant in 2002. Ortiz had two solid years with the Braves, winning 21 games in 2003, before signing a four-year, $33 million contract to pitch in Arizona, where he lives. Here, he tanked. He was 5-11 with a 6.89 ERA last year and 0-5, 7.54 this year.

The Diamondbacks placed him on the disabled list in April with a calf injury and had him make four rehab starts at Triple-A so he could try to straighten himself out, but he did not, and the club cut him despite being on the hook for so much dough. Any team that takes a flyer on Ortiz can have him through 2008 for the major-league minimum, about $900,000.

"I feel bad for Russ, the situation he's in," said Giants reliever Tim Worrell, a teammate in San Francisco in 2001 and '02 and briefly in Arizona last year. "The Diamondbacks are also in a situation where, obviously, they were looking for something else.

"I guess from what little bit I saw, they were probably looking for a little more consistency. You'd have to ask Russ. I would imagine it's not health and it's not age. It's probably something that could be fixed. Maybe they just ran out of time."

Arizona general manager Josh Byrnes said he tried to trade Ortiz, a difficult task given his contract. Asked if he thought Ortiz still could get big-league hitters out, Byrnes said, "I think sometimes a change of scenery is a powerful thing. Russ had a lot of good years in the big leagues. Maybe he can still have some in the future. In many ways, we're rooting for him because he gave us an honest effort."

Another article on Ortiz. The price would be cheap by BB standards.:)