Griffey aids Tigers' signing
Star advised Maybin after talks broke down
September 24, 2005
BY JOHN LOWE
FREE PRESS SPORTS WRITER
With an assist from Ken Griffey Jr., the Tigers on Friday signed first-round draft pick Cameron Maybin.
Maybin, a high school outfielder from Asheville, N.C., received a signing bonus of $2.65 million. The sides compromised to reach that figure after their talks broke down four weeks ago.
Griffey helped encourage Maybin after the breakdown in negotiations.
"Ken made sure that disappointment didn't harm any chance of getting this done in the short term. That was his biggest contribution," said Brian Goldberg, Griffey's agent.
Goldberg also is Maybin's adviser.
"Ken stressed to me that this process goes on every year," Maybin said Friday in a news conference via telephone. "He told me to be patient and let things happen and let things go at their own pace."
Griffey was the first player taken in the 1987 draft. In his long career with Seattle and Cincinnati, he has set a standard for a well-rounded outfield talent like Maybin. Griffey has hit more than 500 homers and won 10 Gold Gloves.
Goldberg introduced Griffey and Maybin in spring training this year.
"Ken has taken Cameron under his wing and given him a lot of advice over the last several months relative to turning professional and what all comes with it," Goldberg said. "Cameron spoke to him yesterday when all this was coming together."
Griffey was reluctant to take credit for his role in Maybin's signing. But in an interview with Hal McCoy of the Dayton Daily News, Griffey said of Maybin: "He is a great kid with a great future, and I'm honored that I am his favorite player and role model. I just wanted to give any guidance and advice he needed because I've been through it all and done it all and know how it works. He needs to get settled and get his career under way."
Maybin, 18, is expected to start playing soon for the Tigers' entry this fall in the Florida Instructional League. His official pro debut is due to come next season; the club hasn't said at what level of the minors he'll break in.
The Tigers made Maybin the 10th overall pick in June, their first draft with new scouting director David Chadd. The talks stalled when Maybin was seeking a $3-million bonus and the Tigers were offering something between $2 million and $2.5 million -- after the Tigers had indicated they would come up to $3 million, Goldberg said.
Goldberg and Chadd restarted the talks this week. It seemed that too much was at stake for the sides not to make a deal -- too much money on the table for Maybin, and too many failed first-round picks in the last few decades for the Tigers. The club couldn't let Maybin get away because of a financial gap that represented about 1% of the $75 million they guaranteed Magglio Ordonez.
Goldberg credited the Maybin family for "looking forward" instead of dwelling on how the negotiations stalled, and he complimented Chadd "for keeping this thing going and not letting it die."
As a high school senior this season, Maybin, 6-feet-4, batted .662 with 15 homers and 32 steals. Those are only high school numbers, but you might say they are Griffey-esque.
Sounds to me like Maybin is the most talented Tigers non-pitcher draft pick in years himself. Scouts absolutely love him. I personally believe this was the Tigers' best draft in years, but until these players reach the upper levels and ultimately some to the majors, the jury will remain out. The lack of a consistent minor league system has hurt this franchise. Now Ilitch needs to stand aside and let Dombrowski do his job with no meddling like David Chadd has done his job with the draft and maybe, just maybe the circus we call the Tigers' front office will gain a bit of stability.