Decision on Beltre’s Status Expected at End of Next Week


The baseball commissioner’s office will not announce a decision on Adrian Beltre’s request to be declared a free agent until late next week, Sandy Alderson, executive vice president for baseball operations, said Monday.

Alderson would not discuss the investigation or decision-making process, but a source familiar with the situation said that the commissioner’s office does not want to make a decision that would then become the focus of the winter meetings, which open in Anaheim on Friday.

In the meantime, it was learned that the Major League Baseball Players Assn. will file a grievance on behalf of the Dodger third baseman, possibly as early as today, the first step in possibly sending the case to an arbitrator. The grievance will also ask that Beltre be declared a free agent, claiming he was signed illegally by the Dodgers before his 16th birthday.


Scott Boras, Beltre’s agent, would not discuss the pending union move, but a source said that it is designed to put pressure on the commissioner’s office, which has a poor record in arbitration duels with the union, and to get the arbitration process started in case the commissioner rules against Beltre. The union will ask for an expedited hearing but it could still take 30 days before an arbitrator even hears the arguments. The grievance will be withdrawn if the commissioner rules in Beltre’s favor.

The alleged violation occurred when Beltre signed his first professional contract, but the source, labeling it the “fruit of the poisonous tree,” said the union believes it has jurisdiction because Beltre is now a major league player--the first to seek free agency through a claim that he was underage when signed.

Boras, when informed that Alderson does not expect a decision for another 10 days at least, said that timetable is definitely “injurious to Adrian” in that all of the teams “will be making a lot of decisions between now and [the end of the winter meetings].”

Boras said that he wrote another in a series of letters to the commissioner’s office Monday, requesting a decision this week.

“I don’t have a clear-cut answer why they can’t make a decision,” he said. “The rule is specific, and there is indisputable evidence that the Dodgers violated the rule and that Adrian’s behavior was honest and forthright. The only question they need to answer is, was he of age? Any other finding or any other discussions beyond the documents that we have provided the commissioner’s office are extraneous.”

Although precedent is in Beltre’s favor, it is believed that the commissioner’s office is under pressure from the clubs--concerned as to how high Beltre could lift the second-year salary scale as a free agent and that other players may pursue a similar course--to rule against him by invoking a statute of limitations, although there is no such statute in the rule book.


Boras claims that Beltre was signed when 15 and that the Dodgers falsified related documents. A series of work visas obtained by the Dodgers on Beltre’s behalf may best support the claim of the agent and player that he was born April 7, 1979, rather than 1978, as the Dodgers say. The visas list his birth date as April 7, 1979, and that information was provided to the immigration department by the Dodgers. It is a felony to provide incorrect information.

A source said that Boras is scheduled to meet with Dodger chairman Robert Daly today, and that the Beltre situation is bound to come up. Discussions also are expected to involve some of Boras’ free-agent clients, Seattle Mariner shortstop Alex Rodriguez, who is eligible for free agency after the 2000 season and is expected to be traded before then, and Dodger pitcher Darren Dreifort, who is also eligible for free agency after next season.

Boras had no comment on the meeting with Daly, but the source said that Boras and Beltre remain perplexed as to why the new Dodger administration wouldn’t simply say the former regime had made a mistake, it won’t happen again and the club, in fairness, is going to release Beltre and then try to re-sign him as a free agent.

“Adrian would consider that a stand-up gesture and feel much better about possibly returning to the club,” the source said.

Dodger Notes

The Dodgers will play the Toronto Blue Jays at SkyDome in the teams’ final two exhibition games, it was announced Monday. They will play March 31 at 4 p.m. PST and April 1 at 10 a.m. The Dodgers begin the regular season April 3 against the Montreal Expos at Olympic Stadium.