Garciaparra passed up last year's offer

Updated: December 9, 2003, 8:49 PM ET
Associated Press

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic -- Boston Red Sox owner John Henry lashed out at Nomar Garciaparra's agent on Tuesday, saying it was the "the height of hypocrisy" to accuse the team of betrayal after the star shortstop rejected the team's lucrative, long-term offer last spring.

Nomar Garciaparra

"He says we're being disingenuous. I take great umbrage at that statement," Henry said at the opening of the team's academy in the Dominican Republic, according to two Boston newspapers that covered the event. "That is the height of hypocrisy."

Garciaparra said in radio and newspaper interviews this week that he would be hurt if the Red Sox went through with plans to trade him and acquire Alex Rodriguez from Texas. Calling the radio station and the Boston Herald from his Hawaii honeymoon with soccer star Mia Hamm, Garciaparra said he wants to finish his career in Boston, and noted his commitment to the community and the team.

Garciaparra's agent, Arn Tellem, told The Boston Globe that the team's efforts to acquire Rodriguez -- which are less about Garciaparra than outfielder Manny Ramirez -- are "a slap in the face."

The Globe and Herald both quoted sources on Tuesday as saying that the Red Sox offered Garciaparra a four-year deal last spring worth $60 million. Garciaparra rejected it, instead seeking a longer deal worth as much as $17 million a year.

Since then, the market has declined, and the Red Sox have reportedly decreased their offer.

"I hope he's being more honest with his client than he is with the media because we have made credible offers," Henry said. "The reason we have continued in the manner in which we have, is that his agent has given us a very clear indication that there is no common ground. He seems to believe it is still the winter of 2000."

Tellem, reached in New York, thought Henry was out of line.

"Obviously, I strongly disagree with Henry's characterization of my comments in regards to Nomar's current situation with Red Sox," Tellem said. "All further communication regarding this matter will be conducted in a private and professional manner among myself, Nomar and appropriate representatives of the Red Sox organization. As Nomar has stated, it has always been and still remains his goal to stay with the Red Sox."

The Red Sox have refused to discuss -- or even confirm -- their talks with Texas.

"We don't comment on rumors," Boston general manager Theo Epstein said. "It would be disrespectful for Nomar and Manny to talk about rumors surrounding them. I have great respect for Nomar and Manny."

Also Tuesday, Epstein said he would begin negotiating a contract extension with pitcher Pedro Martinez at the winter meetings in New Orleans this weekend.

"We don't feel pressured with regard to Pedro's contract," Epstein said. "He's signed through 2004 and we'll try to reach an agreement before spring training."

Martinez has one season and $17.5 million left on his deal. The right-handed ace refused comment, saying, "Boston has the ball in their hands."

Epstein and principal owner John Henry were in this Caribbean country to inaugurate a baseball academy near the outskirts of the Dominican capital to develop young talent.

The complex will cost $3 million to operate the first five years and can host up to 65 players at a time. There are two baseball diamonds, a dormitory building, gymnasium, kitchen and a study room.

The Los Angeles Dodgers, Oakland Athletics and San Diego Padres have built similar facilities in the Dominican Republic.

Also Tuesday, the Red Sox signed 18-year-old shortstop Luis Soto to a minor league contract. The switch-hitting Soto who played for the defending champion Baseball America team in the World Woodbat Tournament in Jupiter, Fla., this fall.

Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press