On Friday evening, before the Tigers faced off against the Red Sox, President and General Manager Dave Dombrowski spoke to the media concerning the situation with Cameron Maybin, and to officially announce the two sides had broken off talks.
"Our negotiations have broken off," Dombrowski said. "We would love to still sign him, but we came to a point where we were financially and they were where they were financially, and it just wasn't working."
The move comes days after Maybin's advisor Brian Goldberg came out publicly and stated that the two sides had agreed upon a deal for $3.3 million only to have the offer pulled by Mike Ilitch at the last moment. Dombrowski vehemently denied this accusation as well.
"I was never in a position where I brought a deal [to ownership]," Dombrowski said. "Of course, if there's any major [deal], I go to ownership and Mike Ilitch has always been very supportive."
Dombrowski (as well as owner Mike Ilitch) has never shied from making a lucrative contract offer where they felt one was necessary and worthy. However, Dombrowski has never been one to air closed-door talks, and is a none-too-pleasant person when such talk makes its way to the media.
In all likelihood, much of what has been reported as of late could very well be inaccurate, as they came directly from Goldberg in his efforts to drum up support for his client, likely trying to leverage public support and force the Tigers to cave and give his client the deal he wanted (around $4 million). That plan has obviously backfired, and Maybin is now in an extremely tough spot.
Class has now started at Southern University, but Maybin has not been in attendance. It's now expected that Maybin will attend Lake Junior College, meaning the Tigers will retain his rights up until the week before the 2006 amateur draft, at which point he would likely re-enter the draft. If he went to Southern, he would be ineligible for the draft until 2008.
Some might be wondering if this could play out much the way last year's situation did, where just days after the Tigers broke off talks with top pick Justin Verlander, the Verlander family fired their representation and Justin's father Richard got involved in the negotiations.
However, this year things are a bit different, as it is believed that the Maybin's (and not Goldberg) are the ones that are pushing for the big money, taking to heart that their son is worth every penny that Baseball America said he was. So, unlike with Verlander, there is no parent to step in and intervene.
Could the Tigers and Maybin still come to terms on a deal? Absolutely. It's certainly possible for the Maybin family to re-evaluate their stance and come down from their reported contract demands. But the Tigers are taking a clear stance; they will not be held hostage by any 18 year old kid, regardless of how talented he is.
The organization feels as if it has made a very fair contract offer, and is prepared to move on if that's what is necessary. Dombrowski has yet again proven to be very much up to the task and completely unwilling to deal with negotiators that try and use the public eye as leverage.
The ball is now in Maybin's court, but it's clear who holds the power in these negotiations.