Negotiation 301?

Here is some news that, as an aside, doesn’t make me entirely happy as an A’s fan who enjoys his team winning and having easy teams to beat up on in the American League West. The news is that the Rangers have put Josh Hamilton contract talks on hold to pursue Zack Greinke. You can see why this would upset me.

But that’s not what I’m here for. I have a whole A’s blog to whine about the A’s. What I’m here for is the weirdness of an entire front office apparently being unable to manage two different contract negotiations at once, and in particular being unable to so manage in a public fashion. Or semi-public, at least — Jon Heyman wasn’t able to put a name to his report that Hamilton was being backburnered, after all, but it’s not crazy to imagine that teams frequently let information out for a reason. This isn’t the Cold War, but there sure is a lot of money at stake, so spy-game measures are well justified.

The point is this: just how many intensive hours of negotiation are going on between Jon Daniels and Zack Greinke’s agent that Daniels can’t call up Hamilton’s man and have a chat here and there? Are Daniels and Greinke locked in a hotel suite together in Nashville, not permitted to leave or make a phone call until a contract is signed or they reach an impasse? Will a Federal Mediator be necessary to resolve things between the parties?

And more semi-seriously: what’s the purpose of letting this get out? If you’re Greinke, don’t you now have a tad bit more leverage over the Rangers? “I know I’m your number-one target. If you lose me, you have to go to Josh, and if you go to Josh, he’ll know you lost out on me and have that leverage, and besides he’ll be mad at you that you tossed him aside to negotiate with a pitcher.” If you keep talks going with both players, you can give ‘em the ol’ one-two — “Whoever accepts first gets to win a ring! And also have $150 million!” Or, hell, at least pretend that you’re doing that. “We’ve made this offer to Josh Hamilton and if he takes it, we’ll take him, but if you take this first, we take that off the table and you get our money,” whether you’ve made that offer or not.

Or maybe you don’t like lying because everyone in the game talks and you know Greinke will eventually chat with Hamilton and find out that Daniels duped you. So you don’t say that Hamilton has an offer, but you just keep Greinke in the dark about what your backup plans are and are not.

Now, I’m me. You know me. I’m not the guy who rails at the front offices of baseball about how stupid they are and what are they doing and why would they ever do that and oh my god just hire me already I’ll revolutionize this bullshit. No, these people are smart and experienced and adept at running franchises worth nine or ten figures while I’m sitting on my couch in my underpants. (I’m wearing pants and a shirt, actually, but I have underpants on underneath, so I’m not actually lying.)

So where does that leave us? Here: I doubt the Rangers are making blunders, but I’m not sure why they’re doing things this way and I’d love to have some theories. I guess Occam’s Razor would probably say that the leak wasn’t part of some negotiating strategy. It was just a piece of information from some front office type to Heyman, a minor piece meant to appease him and keep him close or maybe even in direct trade for something else that Heyman knows. That only deals with the public aspect and doesn’t address the question of why the team can’t negotiate with both players at once, but it’s something, at least. What else we got?

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