Super agent Scott Boras made his first appearance at Baseball's Winter Meetings early Tuesday evening. In between discussing his deals for J.D. Drew and some of his other big clients, Boras talked about one of the most pressing issues facing the Atlanta Braves.
While center fielder Andruw Jones is not eligible for free agency until next winter, the matter is getting a lot of attention now. The Braves would love to have him back, but with an exploding free agent market and an already stretched budget, the chances do not seem realistic.
In addressing Jones' situation, Boras said he has not negotiated with Braves' GM John Schuerholz so far and will not this winter. Instead, Boras expects Jones to play out the season and then make a decision a year from now.
"Andruw has made a decision he's going to play the season there in 07," Boras said. "He's going to see what direction the team goes and if there are going to be any talks it'll probably be after the season. Andruw has told me he's going to stay in Atlanta in 07 and then we'll see whether his relationship with the Braves continues or not after the season."
The Braves' sale to Liberty Media is still up in the air. There are no guarantees the new owners would increase payroll, which would be the only way to re-sign Jones to a long-term contract. With Alfonso Soriano getting $17 million this winter, Jones could easily command close to $20 million next offseason. Boras is already setting the table for a huge contract.
"Andruw has won about ten Gold Glove Awards and has hit 50 home runs once and 40…
I don't know if we have a guy like that on the market this year," Boras said.
The Braves already realize the chances of Jones re-signing are slim. If not for his ability to veto a trade under his 10/5 rights, it's possible he'd be the marquee name up for a trade this week at the Winter Meetings. The Braves have spoken to a few teams about Jones, but nothing seems serious at the moment.
After Manny Ramirez is traded, it's possible the teams that lose out on the Boston slugger could have more significant interest in Jones. The Dodgers, Angels, White Sox, and Red Sox are the four teams that have been mentioned most in connection with Jones.
The Braves are now faced with the possibility of Jones playing out the season and losing him outright next winter. If the team is not in contention in July, Jones could be shopped at the trade deadline. But again, any deal would have to get his approval.
Schuerholz had talks with the Red Sox last July about Jones, but Boston refused Atlanta's request for pitchers Jon Lester and Craig Hansen and outfielder CoCo Crisp. Two weeks later Jones gained his 10/5 rights, meaning he has the right to veto any deal.
Boras said that he does foresee any situation where Jones would accept a trade, but that his client would have to consider it if the Braves agreed to a deal.
Click here for part of Boras' audio on Andruw Jones.
Bill Shanks is the author of Scout's Honor: The Bravest Way To Build A Winning Team, a look inside the Braves‘ traditional scouting and player development philosophies. He can also be heard on the Atlanta Braves Radio Network. Email Bill at email@example.com.
Boras won't deal with Schuerholz this winter
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