Thursday, January 8, 2009
Updated: January 9, 10:18 AM ET
Sources: Smoltz agrees to BoSox deal
By Buster Olney
ESPN The Magazine
John Smoltz, who accumulated 210 victories and 154 saves for the Atlanta Braves over 21 seasons, has signed an offer sheet with the Boston Red Sox, sources told ESPN.
Smoltz will earn a $5.5 million base salary with the Red Sox, and can earn up to $5 million in an incentive clause. The incentives include $125,000 for his first day on the active roster, $500,000 if he is on the active roster on the last day of the season, and up to $4.375 million for the number of days he is on the major league roster during the season. Miscellaneous bonuses would come into play if he wins comeback player of the year, the Cy Young or other such awards.
The deal is a subject to a physical, which is scheduled for Monday.
The Braves' offer included $2 million in base salary with $8 million in incentives. The incentives included $5 million for 200 innings/30 starts, with no prorated amount if he pitched less, such as 180 innings pitched.
"I think you'll see us now turn to players who we can take chances on, players who represent potential impact players," Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein said. "We still have some things going on."
Epstein would not confirm the deals for Smoltz or pitcher Brad Penny, but spoke as Penny was on his way out of Boston after completing his physical.
Penny is 94-75 in nine years for the Florida Marlins and Los Angeles Dodgers, going 16-4 with a 3.03 ERA in '07 and finishing third in voting for the NL Cy Young Award. But he was 5-9 with a 5.88 ERA in 15 starts last year for the Dodgers before going on the disabled list with shoulder tendinitis and bursitis.
His deal, which was first reported Dec. 28, could be announced as early as Friday.
Smoltz went to Turner Field on Thursday morning to clean out his locker.
Thursday, Braves CEO Terry McGuirk told The Atlanta Journal Constitution he was surprised Smoltz is signing with the Red Sox.
"John is a great guy. He follows his own head, and I just don't know what's going on with him right now," McGuirk said, according to the report. "We've offered less of a guarantee, but we've offered a substantial guarantee. Coming off an injury like this, we feel like it's the right thing that we should be doing.
"We've offered him a package that would get him in the $10 million range, if he were to pitch a full season and pitch well," McGuirk said, according to the AJC. "For him to walk away from that and to go to another place, I'm just shocked and surprised.
"I read today in something that his agent said the other set of incentives [from the Red Sox] were 'more attainable,'" McGuirk said, according to the report. "If John Smoltz pitches like John Smoltz pitches, I think [what we offered] is attainable. If he's not healthy, it's not going to happen."
Smoltz responded to that, with a statement released through his agent, Lonnie Cooper. "I was going to withhold comment until the announcement of my signing with a new team," Smoltz said, "but I now feel the need to clear up any misconceptions and inaccuracies about the contract negotiations between myself and the Atlanta Braves.
"There were large discrepancies between the offer from the Braves and offers from other teams.
"I have always loved the city of Atlanta, and it will always be my home. I will cherish my 21 years with Bobby Cox and all my Braves teammates. I continue to wish the Atlanta Braves nothing but success in the future."
One of the folks who sold Smoltz on Boston (and is represented by the same agent) is Celtics coach Doc Rivers. The news conference to formally introduce Smoltz will probably happen Monday, and Smoltz will likely go to the Celtics game that night.
Buster Olney is a senior baseball writer for ESPN The Magazine. The Associated Press contributed to this report.