If by some odd chance Josh Booty turns into R.A. Dickey over the next 30 days, the Arizona Diamondbacks likely will be forced to bid him farewell.
Booty, winner of the MLB Network’s reality show, “The Next Knuckler,” technically belongs to the Miami Marlins, according to major-league sources.
The Marlins agreed to release Booty off their retired list, but only under the condition that they could reclaim him if the D-backs planned to add him to their major-league roster at the end of spring training, sources say.
Even if Booty only wanted to resume his career as a minor leaguer, the Marlins would get the first crack at him — they are the team that gave him a $1.6 million bonus after selecting him with the fifth pick of the 1994 draft.
Booty, 37, received a non-roster invitation to camp and a chance to make the Diamondbacks as his reward for throwing the best knuckleball on the reality series. Neither the D-backs nor Major League Baseball recognized initially that he had retired from the Marlins on Jan. 22, 1999.
The two teams and MLB reached a resolution after Booty reported to the D-Backs last Friday. If the Marlins like what they see in Booty — a longshot, by all accounts — they will be allowed to take him back without sending the D-Backs compensation, sources say.
Booty appeared in 13 games as an infielder for the Marlins between 1996 and ’98. He was part of the team’s World Series championship club in ’97 and earned a World Series ring.
However, Booty’s failure to achieve greater success in baseball led him back to football, and he spent two seasons playing quarterback for LSU before the Seattle Seahawks selected him in the sixth round of the 2001 draft.
His NFL career proved no less frustrating than his career in baseball. Booty bounced from the Seahawks to the Cleveland Browns to the Oakland Raiders, but never took a snap in a regular-season game.
To win “The Next Knuckler,” Booty beat out former NFL star Doug Flutie as well as his brother John David Booty, who was a quarterback at USC and also went on to the NFL.