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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46 Comments on "Top Starters Eschew Free Agency"


4 years 10 days ago

Boras is the devil

Brad426
4 years 10 days ago

Yeah, trying to get the most for his clients and make money at the same time. It’s capitalism at its WORST. Or is it at its best? It’s confusing.

$6183511
4 years 10 days ago

Yes, capitalism at its worst.  We need the Bureau of the People Who Decide Whats Best for Everyone to get involved. I am sure many government workers would love to add their expertise and tell us all who is worth what. 

Why is it confusing? Its a market, its not your $$ so dont worry about it. If tix are too high dont go. Geez.

Brad426
4 years 10 days ago

Thanks, now that you explain it it all makes sense! Now let me try to explain “sarcasm” to you…

start_wearing_purple
start_wearing_purple
4 years 10 days ago

On a list of the top 100 people I’d call the devil, Boras gets no where near that list. Nor the top 1,000, top 10,000, etc.

He simply does his job and does it well.

4 years 10 days ago

I think this goes back to what Cliff Lee had to go through to get to free agency. When you get traded 3 times in 8 months just to get to the open market it sends a message. Top of the rotation starters are now going to sign at least one extension just to make sure their home is still home for a bit.

BlueSkyLA
BlueSkyLA
4 years 10 days ago

Yes, and because he will be only 33 when he hits free agency, he’ll likely be in a good position to swing another big contract. If this opportunity came closer to his mid-30s he’d present more of a risk to teams and consequently get less. Boras’ showboating aside, in five years Weaver is going to have ample opportunity to make back the millions he “lost” by signing this extension.

4 years 10 days ago

  Boras will ruin baseball. I’ve was a fanatic baseball fan for 60 years, but no more. Haven’t watched a Sox game all year. Could care less—which is very strange. Seems I’ve figured out that I have absolutely nothing in common with someone making mega-millions—and trying to grab more.

Isaac
4 years 10 days ago

Then why do you go on MLBTR.com?
Ya I’m sure you could careless and you even put a comment ya you could careless

Brad426
4 years 10 days ago

How will Boras ruin baseball, exactly? By getting more of the revenue generated from the sport into the pockets of the millionaire players rather than the billionaire owners? The money is there (even without your share this year) and somebody is going to get it…

ejr
4 years 10 days ago

having something in common with the players is a strange reason to watch a sport. you’re also not a baseball player, so you didn’t have much in common with these guys to begin with, right? i could see being annoyed by the price of games, concessions, parking, t-shirts. but giving up on baseball (in 2011) because of how much the players make? go back to the 1994 strike and take that stand and you might have some supporters.

David X
4 years 10 days ago

Not to mention that many, maybe most, players come from impoverished backgrounds. Owners, most of them, grew up with silver spoons in their mouths, yet many blue-collar fans identify more strongly with these sons of extreme wealth and privilege than with the players who might have been their friends, their neighbors, their classmates. It’s completely mystifying to me why fans do that.

4 years 10 days ago

Oh, stop with the class warfare fallacy that the owners are a bunch of rich kids.  Do some research before making such a statement.  I did the legwork for you, Principal Owners of MLB franchises break down this way:  Corps=3, Clearly Family Money=4, Mostly Self Made=9, Entirely Self Made=14.  An example of “Mostly Self Made” is Drayton McLane who started in his father’s small grocery distribution company and grew it into a national distribution company that was sold to Walmart in 1990.

David X
4 years 9 days ago

So Drayton McLane was born on second base and you think he hit a double. Really? Which base do you think most athletes were born on?

4 years 9 days ago

Born at second base?  Really?  Do some research.  I’d say that growing a small food distribution company that served central Texas to a company that sold for 10.4 million shares of Walmart stock qualifies as a self-made home run.  Enjoy your life of envy and jealousy.

David X
4 years 8 days ago

Well, he was born into a family that HAD a business, for one. Sure beats being a farmer’s kid or a child of a single mother. Why is it that people with ALL the privileges that life has to offer (the best schools, wealth even if modest, the right connections) insist that, no, I am completely self made? It is delusional. And so are you.

pmc765
4 years 10 days ago

Boras is a lawyer. What he tells his client is subject to a privilege. The privilege belongs to the client, not the lawyer.

So Boras, to aggrandize himself, tells the media he told his client not to take the deal but his client insisted?

That’s only okay with the consent of the client. Did Jered Weaver tell Boras it was cool to talk to USA Today about his business?

4 years 10 days ago

You’ve got a good point here.  Both here and in the case of CarGo he made it clear publicly that he didn’t want them to do the deals, and that should really be private.

guest_54
4 years 10 days ago

Considering that you don’t have to be an attorney to be a sports agent, I don’t think that privilege applies in this situation. If he were hired as an attorney, that privilege would obviously exist; but, since he’s hired as a business advisor, I think that there is no such privilege.

IdontknowwhyIpostonforums
4 years 10 days ago

This is true, though there are probably some contractual privileges in the agreement between Boras and his clients.  However, there is no attorney/client privilege that is automatically evoked.

Additionally, I believe that Boras no longer practices law.  Most states require some form of continuing education as well as a regular renewal of ones license.  My guess is that Boras does not need or want to have a legal license anymore. Especially, since the ethical rules are stricter on an lawyer/agent then on a non-lawyer/agent.

Phillies_Aces35
4 years 10 days ago

I honestly think that’s better for the player. It makes the player look better in the eyes of the fan base for “taking less.”

4 years 10 days ago

Signing Jered Weaver for 85 million kind of make the Wells trade a little better. They can spend the 60 million dollars that Weaver left behind to pay Wells 86 million dollars that he is owed.

corey23
4 years 10 days ago

85 million sets him up for life, he gets to stay close to home, and uhhhh 85 million SETS HIM FOR LIFE.  Good for him, CarGon, and Cliff Lee, for proving there are still some good guys out there that are content not sucking every last penny possible out of a team. 

Brad426
4 years 10 days ago

Lots of guys have done that (just off the top of my head, Cal Ripken, Barry Larkin, Ryne Sandberg, Chipper Jones), but it is refreshing.

I would point out that while Cliff Lee took a lesser overall dollar amount he did take the highest AVERAGE payday that was on the table ($24M per year vs $21.1M from NYY and $23M from TEX), so he only gets an honorable mention on the list from me.

4 years 10 days ago

Highest annual payday big deal, When talking baseball contracts its the guaranteed money people look at and the number of years could be team crippling especially on an old pitcher. Lee seems like the type who would still be elite in his mid to late 30s who’ll probably miss about a month a year with injuries like an abdominal strain. Totally worth what he’s being paid.

Brad426
4 years 10 days ago

Yes, big deal. If the discussion is about players that take less money to play where they want to play, then a guy that takes a higher average salary for a shorter contract when he knows he will still be “elite” when the contract is up… well, that dilutes the altruistic, feel good, warm fuzziness a bit.

0bsessions
4 years 10 days ago

Bronson Arroyo did it too…

…and was promptly traded to the Reds.

Today’s lesson, kids? Don’t sign a below market value contract without getting a NTC thrown in.

jb226
4 years 10 days ago

The major take-away from this: Of course Boras tries to get his clients the most money possible, that’s the entire reason that somebody hires Scott Boras.  But at the end of the day, he is not the one making the decisions.

So enough with the “Boras won’t let him”-style nonsense.  If you need to be mad at somebody for what Scott Boras does, be mad at the players who hire him explicitly to do so and who declare their intentions pretty loudly in the doing.  Boras is little more than a convenient scapegoat — and I wonder if that’s not part of the reason people hire him in the first place.

BlueSkyLA
BlueSkyLA
4 years 10 days ago

Didn’t you get the memo? Boras is the PREBH: Person Responsible for Everything Bad that Happens. While we’re on the subject of blame, why not lay a little responsibility on the doorstep of free-spending owners, or at least the handful who are really driving these big expensive contracts?

4 years 10 days ago

Cain will be signed up long-term during the off-season.  The Giants are his favorite team (he grew up not rooting for any team) and his wife is from the area, and he has a home there, with his daughter too.  I think something equivalent to Weaver would be in the ballpark for Cain.

corey23
4 years 9 days ago

and his wife is hot as all get up!

tmoney352
4 years 6 days ago

if we want to get on the subject of players with hot gf’s/wives and this article, look no further than CJ Wilson.  Dominique Piek is his gf – look her up.

And you’re welcome.

BadBadLeroyBrown
4 years 9 days ago

Yeah teams are no longer taking chances on letting players they want to resign flirt with free agency because all it takes is one dumb@#$ team to overpay for a player…..Jason Werth-less….eh em(clearing throat) 

92blueblood_la
4 years 8 days ago

If we were all talented like cargo nd weaver……….. wed be calling boras too. Nough said lol

4 years 10 days ago

Agreed, CJ at 100 Million would be moronic. 

Brad426
4 years 10 days ago

Like the fact that a contract would be moronic always stops it from happening.

ejr
4 years 10 days ago

which is what Cliff Lee publicly said about going to the Phillies. i wonder if CarGo is an example of a trend of younger players willing to commit to a team once they are assured a reasonable payday. 

Brad426
4 years 10 days ago

And that’s when the player needs to remind the agent who works for who (or whom, at the risk of sounding all pompous), as apparently happened in both those cases. But Boras gets the “Boras is the devil” rap when the bottom line of what he does is advise his clients in a way that will make them the most money. And yeah, he makes more money that way, too.

And as far as “when is enough enough”… the money is there, why shouldn’t the players want it? MLB has the lowest percentage of the revenue generated by the sport going to the players of the Big Four sports. Seems like a clear case of hate the game, not the playa to me.

angryredmenace
4 years 10 days ago

Everyone knows that if a contract would be moronic, it almost never happens.I mean, it’s not like a team gave A.J Burnett a five year $82.5 million contract, or Jayson Werth a 7 years 126 million dollar contract.Those two guys would never get those contracts because as we all know, moronic things never happen.

Brad426
4 years 10 days ago

Werth and Zito is were the two that came to mind for me. And Mike Hampton, to a lesser degree.

tapehead4
4 years 10 days ago

Many teams bite off more than they can eschew.

0bsessions
4 years 10 days ago

Zito’s not nearly as bad as Werth or Burnett in context. Zito was, depressingly enough, about the best free agent starter available when his contract was signed and he was signed at pretty much the peak of the market in terms of contracts. Salaries pretty much tanked briefly around when Burnett’s deal was signed and Werth might not even have qualified as fourth or fifth best position player on the market when he signed.

That’s not to say that Zito wasn’t an awful signing. Dude was a junk-baller and no one with any sense expected him to perform up to that contract. That said, people were handing out ridiculous contracts like candy at that point.

BlueSkyLA
BlueSkyLA
4 years 10 days ago

It’s difficult for regular folks like us to be overly sympathetic to either the really wealthy owners or the really wealthy players, but just the same, I think a classic labor-management dynamic is at work here. These days, the knives always seem to come out when the people who do the actual work get their share. Almost nobody complains when ownership/management is enriched.

Brad426
4 years 10 days ago

Well said.

Crucisnh
4 years 10 days ago

I’d put it more like I think that some younger players are happy to get a big payday that will set them up for life early in their career, rather than waiting for free agency and risking serious injury in the interim.  After they have that first big contract under their belts, they can worry about getting a really big free agency payday later, but with the confidence that they’ve set themselves up for live already.

East Coast Bias
4 years 10 days ago

gah i hate you for posting this before me! I was about to write something similar