Top Starters Eschew Free Agency

Boras Corporation client Carlos Gonzalez bucked the agency's trend in January, signing a seven-year, $80MM deal instead of going to free agency as soon as possible.  Publicly, Scott Boras said, "I was very much on board with this decision," though the agent made sure to show CarGo what he was missing.  Since the deal was a record contract for a two-plus player, Boras at least had that feather in his cap.

Angels righty Jered Weaver is not a two-plus player; he has five-plus years of service time and had to get past only the 2012 season before a likely $100MM+ free agent deal.  Instead he signed for five years and $85MM.  One way to look at that is since Weaver could have gotten $13MM in arbitration for '12, he gave up four free agent years for $18MM apiece, without negotiating on the open market.  That is decidedly not the Boras Way.

Talking to Bob Nightengale of USA Today, Boras explained, "He knows his value. He had close to 30 illustrations given to him to understand his value.  He knows not becoming a free agent would cost him millions and millions of dollars.  But the necessity to stay home was compelling."  Nightengale estimates a potential $60MM loss for Weaver.  For a 30-year-old ace, $23MM per year over six free agent seasons would have been possible, and $24-25MM over seven may have been within reach depending on various factors.  

Boras acknowledged that with so many top starting pitchers locked up, the free agent demand will be greater and teams will be aggressive.  For the upcoming offseason, that means huge deals for C.C. Sabathia and C.J. Wilson; I think Wilson can reach $100MM.  Guys like Edwin Jackson and Hisashi Iwakuma may be lifted up as well.

Following the 2012 season, Matt Cain, John Danks, Zack Greinke, Cole Hamels, Shaun Marcum, Colby Lewis, and Anibal Sanchez project to be among the top starters available.  But how many of them will be locked up in the next 15 months?  Hamels appears open to a new extension, telling Nightengale, "Teams are being a lot smarter now,  When they have somebody they want to keep, they make sure to get it done. They don't want to let it get to an iffy situation.  The Phillies ought to know me pretty well by now, too, so we'll see what happens."

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