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Jefferson star agrees to contract with Mets

After longer-than- expected negotiations, Jason Weintraub will report to Kingsport, Tenn., on July 7.

By FRANK PASTOR

© St. Petersburg Times,
published June 30, 2001


TAMPA -- Jason Weintraub is a New York Met. Or he will be in a couple of days, anyway.

Weintraub, the Mets' sixth-round draft pick, reached an agreement in principle with the team Friday.

The Jefferson graduate will make things official when he signs a contract Sunday at his father's baseball card shop.

"I'm pretty relaxed now," Weintraub said. "A lot of tension is off. It's all over with, so I can just go out now and do what I love and play the game. No more waiting."

On June 5, the Mets chose Weintraub, a right-handed pitcher, with the 192nd pick of the draft. At the time, Weintraub's father, Skip, said he believed it might take seven to 10 days to reach an agreement.

But 23 days passed before Weintraub's adviser, Steve Canter, closed the deal with Gary LaRocque, the Mets' scouting director.

The deal is worth about $215,000, including money that will be placed in escrow for college. It was 50 percent more than the Mets' initial offer, Weintraub's father said.

"We're very pleased with how the package worked out," Skip Weintraub said. "The Mets have been first class in negotiations. It couldn't have been any better."

Later Friday, Weintraub contacted South Florida coach Eddie Cardieri to tell him he would not be playing for the Bulls.

Weintraub said he might have gone to college had he been selected in the same round by a team other than the Mets, who keep pitchers on strict pitch counts and stress development over winning.

"The Mets are a great fit for me," he said.

Weintraub will report to the Mets' short-season Class A affiliate in Kingsport, Tenn., on July 7. He said he hopes to be in the major leagues within four years.

He could appear on a baseball card even sooner. His father has talked to Topps, which is considering including Weintraub in its 2002 set.

"That would be cool," Weintraub said.

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