AP source: Braves draft pick Stewart reaches deal in Japan

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NEW YORK (AP) — After failing to sign with Atlanta and losing a grievance against the Braves, 19-year-old right-hander Carter Stewart has agreed to a six-year contract with the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks of Japan's Pacific League that will guarantee $6 million to $7 million, a person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press.

The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity Wednesday because the deal had not been finalized. The deal is likely to be announced May 30 at a news conference in Southern California and will be subject to Stewart obtaining a Japanese work visa, which probably occur in early June. Stewart would then report to the Hawks' development complex.

Stewart's contract will have additional bonus provisions.

Stewart would have been eligible for next month's amateur draft. He was 2-2 with a 1.70 ERA and 108 strikeouts in 74 1/3 innings this year at Eastern Florida State College.

He was selected by the Braves with the eighth overall pick in last year's draft from Eau Gallie High School in Florida, and negotiations were complicated by a wrist injury. The eighth pick had a slot value of $4,980,700 for its signing bonus, and the Major League Baseball Players Association claimed the Braves failed to make Stewart an offer of at least 40 percent of the slot value.

Major league rules specify that if a club fails to make such an offer to a drafted player who is not part of Major League Baseball's pre-draft MRI program and who later fails a club-administered physical, the player would become a free agent and the team would not get the extra draft pick.

Arbitrator Mark Irvings held the Braves made a 40 percent offer to Stewart, which meant he did not have to rule on any of the other issues presented by the case.

Because he didn't sign, the Braves get an extra selection in the first round this June, the ninth pick overall.


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