The Boras Factor

Scott Boras is, arguably, the fiercest negotiator of all agents who represent professional baseball players. And, of course, as soon as fall turns to winter, Boras is always in the middle of a deal somewhere, attempting to provide his clients, players from all facets of skill – from mediocre to superstar-level talent – more money and longevity in their deals than they deserve.

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Scott Boras is the most popular — and perhaps fiercest — negotiator of all agents who represent professional baseball players today. As soon as fall turns to winter, you can find Boras in the middle of negotiations somewhere, attempting to provide his clients more money and longevity in their contracts than they deserve.

The agent of all agents has received quite a large amount of notoriety lately after his recent stunt of sending over a fax to the Yankees' offices declaring that Alex Rodriguez, Boras' most important client, was opting out of his record-setting contract with New York. The unfortunate timing of the information being leaked to the media, the last day of World Series, irked a lot of people, especially executives throughout the game and Commissioner Bud Selig. This has caused baseball followers to loathe Boras, an already polarizing figure, more than ever.

Unfortunately for all Boras clients, though, the information leak has led to tremendous backlash towards the controversial agent and Rodriguez, who many people feel tried to upstage baseball's marquee event. Critics have been vocally blasting Rodriguez and his agent, accusing the pair of trying to appear larger than the game itself.

Recently, many analysts feel that Boras, by removing the Yankees from the A-Rod sweepstakes, perhaps foolishly, had unrealistic financial expectations in terms of market demand for his prize player. Reportedly, the Boras/Rodriguez camp refused to even meet with Brian Cashman and the Yankees, demanding a starting offer of at least $350 million dollars, a number only good enough to begin negotiations.

Clearly, it now appears that Boras went out on way too far of a limb as an offer even close to that, which the Yankees easily would have made, appears to be unrealistic. There appear to be only a handful of teams — perhaps only the Boston Red Sox (doubtful as they should re-sign World Series MVP Mike Lowell), Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Mets, and San Francisco Giants — that have a feasible chance of affording the highly-publicized third baseman. For all of the above mentioned teams, signing Rodriguez proves to be a daunting challenge unless Boras' asking price decreases considerably.

Assuming that money is the real motivation behind Boras' rationale here, opting out was not a wise choice for either party. The Yankees were, without a doubt, going to offer Rodriguez the most amount of money. And the timing of the announcement only worsened matters for the so-called "superagent."

As for potential suitors, Boston, who is making a strong effort to bring Lowell back, would be crazy to make Rodriguez a legitimate pitch. Although A-Rod is the most talented baseball player on the planet, he would be a terrible fit in the Boston clubhouse. Many Boston fans and people within the organization feel he could potentially destroy team chemistry — hence the "Don't Sign A-Rod" chants at Coors Field following the World Series. Not to mention that Boston general manager Theo Epstein and the ownership don't appear to be interested.

With the Angels, the apparent frontrunner to snag A-Rod at this point, whether or not a deal happens will largely depend on the success of their efforts to obtain third baseman Miguel Cabrera via a trade with the Florida Marlins. Through the first five years of his career, Cabrera, who the Marlins have been vocally trying to shop, has put up numbers that have stark similarities to the statistics Rodriguez produced before he turned 24. The young slugger is in high demand despite a drastic increase in his weight, an issue which has raised doubts about his chances of remaining an infielder in the immediate future. Still, Cabrera is a cheaper, younger alternative to A-Rod, damaging Boras' effort to obtain a contract higher than Rodriguez $252 million-dollar deal with Texas all those many years ago.

Ditto for the Dodgers, despite the recent hire of former Yankees' skipper Joe Torre, who became exceedingly closer with Rodriguez during their final season in Gotham together. But can the Dodgers afford to put such a large percentage of their payroll into one player? Can any team, other than the East Coast giants, realistically pull that trigger?

If there was a team that knows about building around one player, it's the San Francisco Giants. After allowing the Barry Bonds home run show to carry on for many years under the leadership of general manager Brian Sabean, will the Giants once again invest the majority of their payroll towards two players? With Rodriguez and last year's overpriced free agent of the offseason, left-handed pitcher Barry Zito (also a Boras client), the Giants would only be repeating their recent tactics. Will they replace Bonds by simply inserting the next slugger who is going to break the all-time home run record?

The Mets might want to seriously consider signing Rodriguez at this point. The potential benefits are intriguing, including stealing a star from their cross-town rivals, gaining another powerful bat in the middle of the lineup, and possibly putting water on the public relations fire resulting from a historic September collapse. Unfortunately, Rodriguez would have to overcome similar obstacles to the ones he faced with the Yankees, such as dealing with the pressures from the New York media and the unrealistic expectations from die-hard Mets' fans. Listening to the frequent radio callers on WFAN 660 radio in New York, some fans might be open to this possibility. But more importantly, what would the Mets do with David Wright, their current superstar at the hot corner, who is probably the existing face of the franchise? Wright, a winner of the National League Gold Glove and Silver Slugger at the position, would have to move across the infield to make room for Rodriguez. Unless A-Rod chose to don a first baseman's mitt, that would be a difficult scenario to think about. How could the Mets ask a Gold Glove third baseman to move to a position that he has never played in his entire life? While I have no doubt Wright has the athleticism to successfully make the switch, it truly is asking a lot.

And about those Yankees. Reportedly, by opting out of his deal, A-Rod cost the Evil Empire $203 million dollars, which would not even include any future earnings paid to him in a new deal. Boras' contention that the Steinbrenner regime unfairly refuses to negotiate with A-Rod like any other free agent — such as Jorge Posada and Mariano Rivera — is a claim that fails to pass the laugh test. Although he finished 2007 with one of the most prolific offensive seasons in Yankees' history, belting 54 home runs to go along with 156 RBIs, A-Rod once again ended the year with a bitter taste following a dismal performance in the team's first-round exit from the postseason, and the opportunity to quiet the New York doubters by leading the Yankees to a championship is something that will elude him for the rest of his career. Taking Hal and Hank to their word, Rodriguez will never again line up to play while rocking the Pinstripes.

And, tragically for Boras, every team mentioned above, excluding the Mets, are also looking for ways to acquire Cabrera as well. Following all of the controversy, the newest record A-Rod deal may not be so exorbitant after all.

Last year, Boras successfully landed J.D. Drew $70 million with Boston and helped Zito obtain $126 million — ridiculously high numbers that neither player ended up performing well enough to deserve.

So here is a full list of other Boras clients who will possibly become increasingly wealthy and overpaid, too. He agrees to take on all clients, and with names like former Tampa Bay Ray Travis Lee on the list, it appears that the Boras Corporation is an equal opportunity employer in the truest meaning of the expression.

  • Bruce Chen — 7.20 ERA in five appearances with the Texas Rangers. Perhaps a multi-million dollar, multi-year deal? Just kidding.
  • Eric Gagne — A strong first half with Texas before imploding in pressure situations with the Red Sox.
  • Jose Hernandez — A Boras client? Seriously?
  • Andruw Jones — Too bad he couldn't trade his 2006 season with his 2007 campaign, which would make him a wealthier man than Torii Hunter will be in about a month or so.
  • Byung-Hyun Kim — After two unsuccessful stints with Florida, he will be more of a rip off than college tuition these days, but some team will pay him.
  • Travis Lee — Didn't he retire after he an unsuccessful attempt at a comeback in spring training with the Washington Nationals?
  • Kyle Lohse — Cha-ching! Cha-ching!
  • Rodrigo Lopez — 5-4, 4.42 ERA in 14 starts.
  • Corey Patterson — .269, 37 stolen bases in 132 games.
  • Kenny Rogers — Someone will pay him — and a lot. I predict the Tigers will bring the veteran lefty back.
  • Ron Villone — 4.25 ERA in 37 games with the Yankees in 2007.
  • Jeff Weaver — Will a team honestly make the same mistake as the Seattle Mariners did last fall?
  • Brad Wilkerson — Kentucky product strikes out too much, but is good for 20 homers per year.
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