The Mariners are on the verge of signing first-round draft pick Josh Fields, according to a story posted tonight on the mlb.com web site.
Mariners officials said they would not comment until there’s something to announce.
Fields, closer for the University of Georgia team that reached the championship round of the College World Series last year, was the 20th overall pick in the draft.
The Mariners believed he could provide immediate help in their bullpen, but contract negotiations stalled because of a $500,000 difference between what he was asking for and what the team was offering. Fields, represented by agent Scott Boras, was seeking $2 million to sign.
Even if Fields signs soon, it’s unclear how close he would be to a major league-caliber pitcher. He hasn’t pitched competitively since the College World Series.
If Fields doesn’t sign before the 2009 draft this June, the Mariners would lose the rights to him and he would re-enter the draft pool. If that happens, the Mariners would receive an additional sandwich pick between the first and second rounds.