Mariners Insider Blog

Fields hold out ends as Mariners sign their top '08 pick

Eight months after the Seattle Mariners drafted him, University of Georgia closer Josh Fields signed a contract and was invited to spring training.

His response?

"I'll be there tomorrow," he said Monday.

Fields, 23, was drafted by former GM Bill Bavasi and his staff, many of whom no longer work with the team. Then considered close to big-league ready with a power fastball and hard curve, Fields now is almost certainly headed directly to the minors.

"Let's not set any false expectations," GM Jack Zduriencik said. "It's extremely unlikely Josh will break camp with us. He needs innings, and he'll get them. He hasn't faced hitters since the College World Series. Our goal is to have him ready to pitch in the minors his year."

What held up the signing? Money, but not much of it – at least not by major league standards.

Fields and his agent, Scott Boras, demanded $2 million. The Mariners offered $1.5 million and there the two sides sat, all through the summer, through the off-season and three days into spring training.

In the end, Fields got $1.75 million, so he sat out eight months for $250,000. Probably not the best financial advice he'll ever get.

But that's done, and the kid now will show manager Don Wakamatsu and the rest of the team what he has. Last June, he might have signed and come directly to the big leagues with a bad Seattle club.

Now he'll pitch in spring training and head for the minors.