Will Dodgers React to Hochevar Move?

Now that Luke Hochevar has signed to play independent ball- which would seem an inevitable move by a Scott Boras client involved in stalled negotations- how do the Dodgers react?

"We'll have people looking at him." says Logan White, the Dodger director of amateur scouting. "I'm an optimist by nature so I'm optimistic that something might get done. However, I'm also a realist and I understand because of the situation that it might not happen."

Hochevar was the Dodgers' top pick in the 2005 draft and, since he didn't return to the University of Tennessee for his senior year, Los Angeles holds sole negotiating rights to him until one week before this year's selection process to be held June 6-7. However the team and player haven't met at all in 2006 after talks broke off late last year.

Thus, Boras placed Hochevar with the Fort Worth Cats of the independent American Association which, since it is not affiliated with organized baseball, is not subject to draft restrictions. The plan is for the righthander to make about six starts for them, a move that could lead to either of two ends- (1) jump start renewed negotiations with the Dodgers or (2) allow other teams to get a line on him for possible selection purposes should the time limit with the Dodgers expire.

It's the latest ploy in a series of them which began when Hochevar, dissatisfied with the lack of progress in his discussions with the Dodgers, apparently dismissed Boras as his agent, agreeing instead with Matt Sosnick. Sosnick quickly reached a deal with L.A. for a reported $ 2.9 million. However, before any actual contract was signed, Hochevar returned to the Boras' fold .

The two sides were unable to reach agreement, the Dodgers withdrew the offer after Boras was quoted as accusing them of bad faith - charges he later withdrew. However, the two haven't gotten together since.

"We feel we have made fair and reasonable offers," says White.

Before last year's draft, Hochevar had been considered the prime college pitcher available. Teams began to shy away when they learned of his expected demands, allowing him to fall to the 40th slot where the Dodgers took him. Since he was a supplemental first-rounder, L.A. will receive no compensatory choice in this year's process, should he fail to sign with them.

The Dodgers didn't have a first-round choice of their own in 2005, having forfeited that to Boston when they signed Derek Lowe as a free agent. The supplemental choice with which Hochevar was taken came as compensation for losing Adrian Beltré to Seattle.

Placing his clients with independent teams in order to stimulate bidding action is a tactic Boras used last year with Stephen Drew and Jared Weaver. Both signed last-minute deals just before the draft. At this stage it is still doubtful if such an occurrence will happen with Hochevar and the Dodgers.