Prospect Turns Down $5M, Now Works At Costco

Now that Matthew Stafford has received the most guaranteed money of any NFL player in history — slightly more than Albert Haynesworth’s $40 million, sacks of cash more than anyone else, ever — it might be worth looking at one time the whole signing bonus culture didn’t work out for the prospect.

Matt Harrington

Matt Harrington was a can’t miss first round pick for the Rockies in 2000. But the nearly $5 million they offered him wasn’t enough. So he went back into the draft. Four more times. Each year for five years, Harrington was taken later and later, and offered less and less. And now?

He’s working in the auto department at Costco.

OUTSIDE THE LINES put together a fascinating profile of a bonus baby who never grew up. A man who gets heckled in his own hometown. “You know you’re the reason baseball tickets are so expensive!” yells one fan.

Harrington was drafted seventh overall in 2000, and asked for $4.95 million, 25 percent more than the previous year’s number 1, Josh Hamilton. They countered with $4 million, which was rejected by Tommy Tanzer’s Harrington’s agent. The Rockies’ final offer was $4.9 million, paid as a salary over eight years, but still guaranteed. Harrington chose to go back into the draft the next year.

The Harrington’s fired Tanzer and brought suit against him for mishandling the negotiations, though they publicly supported him at the time. They then brought in Scott Boras, but Harrington’s stock had dropped so dramatically that even the superagent could salvage things.

He was taken in the second round in 2001 by the Padres and offered $1.2 million, which he again rejected. Then came the 13th round in 2002, the 24th round in 2003, and the 36th round in 2004. That year, the Yankees didn’t even offer him a contract.

Harrington has bounced around the independent leagues for a while, trying in vain to work his way back to the major leagues. Now he works in the tire department at a Costco in Southern California, claiming this was his plan all along.

“I want to be home,” Matt thought at the time. “I want to be doing the things as a family more than I want to be on the road all the time playing baseball.”

So, what’s the moral here? Good on ya, Matt Stafford, for signing that deal.