Scott Boras Rumors
Agent Scott Boras joined ESPN's Keith Law on his latest Behind the Dish podcast. A few highlights:
- Jacoby Ellsbury has "illustrated that he's a highly durable athlete," according to Boras. The agent explained that people running into Ellsbury, which caused his two major injuries, has nothing to do with his durability. Ellsbury is "a game-changer for a lot of franchises," as the importance of leadoff hitters has increased as power has declined. Boras says a player of Ellsbury's caliber is typically locked up by his team and does not reach free agency. I projected a seven-year, $150MM contract for Ellsbury in my recent free agent profile.
- Shin-Soo Choo is a "premium defensive outfielder at the corners," says Boras, which is further proven by him being able to handle center field for a season with the Reds.
- Seven or eight teams could "change the dynamic of the production of their infield" with shortstop Stephen Drew, in the opinion of Boras.
- Kendrys Morales' metrics at first base are above average, Boras told Law, adding, "He clearly is a good first baseman." Boras feels that pundits don't appreciate the rarity of a switch-hitter with a middle of the order bat, in this case. Morales is "the only other one really than Cano who you can say has the ability to be a run producer in the middle of the lineup" in this free agent market, says Boras, an assessment with which the agents for Brian McCann, Mike Napoli, Carlos Beltran, Curtis Granderson, and Nelson Cruz might disagree.
There appears to be mutual interest between the Red Sox and Jacoby Ellsbury in a new contract this winter, though the Red Sox may balk at re-signing the center fielder if the bidding goes far past the $100MM mark, CBS Sports' Jon Heyman reports. Boston's return to prominence this season has been built around signing "mid-range" free agents like Shane Victorino or Mike Napoli and the team may wish to continue this strategy rather than splurge on a major free agent contract. Sources connected to the team tell Heyman they "aren't necessarily optimistic" that the Sox will be keen on handing Ellsbury a Carl Crawford-esque deal.
Crawford's contract (a seven-year, $142MM pact in December 2010) was cited by Scott Boras, Ellsbury's agent, as perhaps not being large enough for his client since Ellsbury plays center field, has experience hitting leadoff and also has had success playing in Boston. Boras, as you might expect, used a colorful metaphor to describe his feelings about Ellsbury as a franchise cornerstone and about the "mid-range" free agent signing strategy.
“Free agency is like the Navy. You can have a number of mid-range missiles, but they only work as long as you have the aircraft carrier to put them on.”
I used the Crawford deal as a comparison myself when I examined Ellsbury as a possible extension candidate back in March 2012. At the time Ellsbury was coming off the best season of his career -- a .321/.376/.552 slash line, 32 homers, 39 steals, 119 runs scored and a league-leading 364 total bases. Since then, Ellsbury has hit .287/.340/.403 with just 12 homers over 941 PA, though his 2012 season was limited to only 74 games due to injury.
My proposal at the time was a seven-year, $133MM deal between Ellsbury and the Red Sox that would have covered Ellsbury's 2013 season and his first six free agent years. Ellsbury hasn't kept up the power since then and he turns 30 years old next week. As we saw with Michael Bourn (another Boras client) last offseason, teams are hesitant to give major deals to speed-centric players entering their thirties.
Some executives tell Heyman that Ellsbury could be in line for a five-year/$75MM deal like B.J. Upton while others think the Boston outfielder will indeed crack the $100MM mark. My guess is that Ellsbury seems like a lock for a $100MM+ contract on the open market this offseason due to both his talents and because this winter's free agent outfielder market is rather slim. MLBTR's Tim Dierkes has had Ellsbury rated no lower than third throughout his 2014 Free Agent Power Rankings since the season began, and Ellsbury has claimed the No. 2 position (behind only Robinson Cano) for the last two months.
Red Sox owner John Henry reportedly "very much likes Ellsbury," though the team kept Jackie Bradley Jr. at the trade deadline as insurance should Ellsbury left in free agency There should be strong interest in Ellsbury on the open market; Fangraphs' Paul Swydan recently noted that up to 12 teams could vie for Ellsbury's services.
Angels owner Arte Moreno is already in the process of evaluating the 2013 season and how to get the team back on track in 2014, as he explained in an interview with Barry M. Bloom of MLB.com. Moreno said that the jobs of manager Mike Scioscia and general manager Jerry Dipoto would be evaluated as part of an organization-wide review that includes himself -- "I have to look in the mirror and say, 'Am I making the right call?'" Moreno said. The owner also discussed roster moves that backfired, stadium talks with the city of Anaheim, how the Dodgers' success impacts the Angels and several other topics.
Here are more items as we wrap up a busy Monday in baseball...
- Albert Pujols will be shut down for the rest of the season, the Angels confirmed today. The slugger suffered a partial tear of the plantar facia of his left foot and hasn't played since July 26. Pujols was bothered by foot injuries for much of the year and hit .258/.330/.437 with 17 homers in 443 PA, the worst season of his 13-year career.
- Miguel Tejada was also facing a suspension for his involvement in the Biogenesis scandal before accepting his 105-game suspension for amphetamine use, ESPN's Pedro Gomez reports. Major League Baseball gave Tejada the choice of accepting his 105-game ban or facing further punishment for his Biogenesis ties. Gomez notes that Tejada "insists he does not plan to retire" though given Tejada's suspension, age (39) and decline in production, it's tough to see a team signing him this winter. After not playing in the majors in 2012, Tejada hit .288/.317/.378 over 167 PA in a reserve role with the Royals this year.
- Joaquin Benoit in a much better contractual position as he approaches free agency this winter than he was in the 2009-10 offseason. MLB.com's Zack Meisel talks to Benoit about how he considered retirement due to shoulder injuries that caused him to miss the entire 2009 season, but rebounded to become one of the game's better relievers and now the Tigers closer.
- Scott Boras and Jay Z have a fundamental disagreement about the role of an agent, Brian Costa of the Wall Street Journal explains. "It is at once a clash of egos and ideas. At issue: To what extent are established agents like Boras missing out on marketing and endorsement opportunities for their clients? And to what extent should a baseball player even care?" Costa writes. Robinson Cano, the top free agent of the coming offseason, made waves when he left Boras in April and hired CAA and Jay Z's Roc Nation Sports to handle his representation.
As the baseball world gathers at Citi Field for the All-Star break, the Orioles are looking to bring the Midsummer Classic back to Baltimore in 2016, Childs Walker of the Baltimore Sun reports. It would be the first time the O's have hosted the All-Star Game since 1993, and a 2016 hosting date would also mark the team's 25th season at Camden Yards.
Here's the latest from Charm City...
- Scott Boras told reporters (including Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun) that he hasn't had any conversations with Orioles executive VP Dan Duquette about contract extensions for Chris Davis or Matt Wieters. “Dan and I talk all the time, but it’s the kind of thing where the focus is on the play and not really their contracts now," Boras said. Both players have two years of arbitration eligibility remaining before they're eligible for free agency after the 2015 season. There was talk of a Wieters extension last offseason but the team now believes Wieters will test the open market in 2015. Davis is sure to receive a huge arbitration raise on his current $3.3MM salary, and it will be very interesting to see how any extension talks develop given Boras' involvement and Davis' sudden emergence as an elite slugger.
- The Orioles have been quiet on the international signing front since July 2, but Dan Duquette tells MASNsports.com's Steve Melewski that the team is actively working to identify and access international talent. "We're working all the markets. Teams have different strategies to acquire talent. Our strategy is to sign good players and look for value in the market and that is what our scouts are doing," Duquette said. "We are active on the international markets. We will be out executing our international recruiting strategy for the whole [2013-14] season." You can check out all of MLBTR's coverage of the 2013-14 international signing period here.
Here's tonight's look around baseball..
- A source tells MLB Network's Peter Gammons (Twitter link) that Gene Orza may rejoin the MLB Players Association. Orza retired as the organization's chief operating officer before the 2011 season. In a Thursday article, Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reported that Donald Fehr, the predecessor to current MLBPA executive director Michael Weiner, could also return to the association,.
- Orioles Vice President Dan Duquette says his club wants to see how its newly revamped rotation, which features recent acquisition Scott Feldman and a now-healthy Wei-Yin Chen, performs before it considers adding another starting pitcher via trade. Duquette also discussed the possibility of trading prospects for big leaguers in an article by Steve Melewski of MASNSports.com. "I wouldn't handicap our opportunities to make additional deals," Duquette said. "We're going to be active in the market to try and help our team so we can go back to the playoffs and have another crack at it."
- Jim Callis of Baseball America (via Twitter) notes that the top four MLB draft bonuses of all time went to players advised by Scott Boras: Gerrit Cole ($8MM), Stephen Strasburg ($7.5MM), Bubba Starling ($7.5MM) and Kris Bryant ($6.7MM).
- Leaks of names associated with the Biogenesis scandal are a violation of baseball's collective bargaining agreement, Scott Boras says in an article by Bruce Levine of ESPNChicago.com. "I don't know where [the leaks] are coming from," Boras said. "There are only a very small group of parties that have access to this information. Whenever these things happen, whoever is doing it, is not serving the game well." MLB Players Association executive director Michael Weiner has also criticized the leaks in recent days, saying they "threaten to harm the integrity of the Joint Drug Agreement and call into question the required level of confidentiality needed to operate a successful prevention program."
- Twins manager Ron Gardenhire doesn't intend to resign, despite the team's recent poor play, Phil Miller of the Star Tribune reports. In comments earlier this month, Twins GM Terry Ryan accepted some of the blame for the Twins' losing ways. "I put this roster together. I've told Gardy to do the best he can. I understand that I don't have a perfect roster here," Ryan acknowledged.
- White Sox GM Rick Hahn said in a conference call with reporters that the team remains active in trade discussions after shipping reliever Matt Thornton off to Boston. "We're going to keep talking and see where it leads over the coming weeks," Hahn is quoted as saying in a tweet from the South Siders' official feed.
Scott Boras isn't generally in favor of pre-free agency extensions, but he ultimately lets his players decide for themselves, he tells Adam Rubin of ESPN New York. "I don’t think there’s any question that the reason a club offers a player guarantees when they don’t have to is they deem it to be beneficial to them -- just by the nature that they offer them," says Boras. "So if the club is doing something beneficial for the club, obviously most likely it’s not beneficial to the player." Regardless, Boras' general stance doesn't mean he's not open to pre-free agency deals in certain situations -- he himself cites the Carlos Gonzalez and Elvis Andrus deals, both of which he negotiated. The discussion comes in the context of questions about a potential extension for the Mets' Matt Harvey, but that doesn't sound particularly likely, given that Boras represents him and he turned down a substantial bonus offer after being drafted out of high school by the Angels. Here are more notes from around the majors.
- The Cubs, who have the second overall pick in the upcoming draft, will choose between four players: Oklahoma pitcher Jonathan Gray, Stanford pitcher Mark Appel, San Diego third baseman Kris Bryant, and UNC third baseman Colin Moran. MLB.com's Carrie Muskat notes that they'll get another chance to watch all except Appel, since Oklahoma, USD and UNC are all in the field of 64 for the NCAA Division I baseball championship. Just over 50% of you predict that Astros will select Gray with the first overall pick, which would leave the Cubs to choose from Appel, Bryant and Moran.
- Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos characterizes this year's draft as "a down year" in a podcast interview with ESPN's Buster Olney. "It's just not nearly as deep. That being said, there's going to be a bunch of really good big-league players that come out of this draft," just as is the case every year, Anthopoulos says. Anthopoulos also notes the Blue Jays have had a difficult time figuring out who might fall to them with the No. 10 overall pick and who to select when the time comes. "There's really no clear-cut player with the players who are going to be remaining," he says.
- Cubs reliever Kevin Gregg isn't interested in talking about the trade deadline, Jesse Rogers of ESPN Chicago reports. "I almost look at it as a little disrespectful to the guys on the team that are here because this is a good product," says Gregg. "This isn’t like we’re getting our butts kicked on a daily basis and they’re looking to clean house. ... To be looking at what the future holds in June or July is worthless to me." Gregg says he still hopes the Cubs will wind up in contention, although that possibility seems remote, given that the team is 13 games back in the NL Central and that the three teams ahead of them all have one of the best records in baseball so far this year.
- Second baseman Derek Dietrich, who was traded from the Rays to the Marlins last December for Yunel Escobar, is finding it strange to be at Tropicana Field as a visiting player, MLB.com's Joe Frisaro reports. "It is a little weird being in this side of the clubhouse," says Dietrich. "The Rays do a great job in raising their players. They really prepare you to be a successful big leaguer. I definitely got better in their organization. I appreciate everything they did for me, giving me that first opportunity. But I'm happy to be here, and be with the Marlins." The Rays picked Dietrich in the second round of the 2010 Draft. He's hitting .237/.308/.424 in 59 at bats in his rookie season with Miami.
Roy Halladay's season (and Phillies tenure) could be ended by his upcoming shoulder surgery, and the veteran right-hander took it upon himself to apologize to Phillie fans before Friday's game. "You feel an obligation to the organization, to your teammates, to the fans to try to go out and pitch. Especially on a competitive team that sells out. For me, that was a big factor," Halladay told reporters (including Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer). Halladay hopes to return to the mound in three months though it remains to been how the 36-year-old will respond to the surgery.
Here's the latest from around the division...
- The Marlins' policy against no-trade clauses isn't an insurmountable obstacle to the team's business, opines agent Scott Boras. "I think the no trade policy does affect franchise players. But the number of franchise players in free agency are pretty rare," Boras told reporters (including Manny Navarro of The Miami Herald). "The Marlins in my mind you've got a number of players who like the geographical dynamic of what Miami offers. You've got a footprint now. It's not a wish and a hope."
- The Marlins' injury problems have forced the team to promote prospects like Jose Fernandez, Derek Dietrich and Marcell Ozuna to the Major Leagues earlier than expected, MLB.com's Joe Frisaro writes. "I don't know if it messes up the plan," president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest said. "You've got to do what you've got to do....Right now, we're so buckled by the amount of injuries to key players. I don't know if we've taken a step back to say, 'OK, is this going to mess up the master plan?' We're trying to make sure Red [manager Mike Redmond] has 25 guys every day, which has been tough."
- Edwin Jackson picked up his first win of the season in the Cubs' 8-2 victory over the Nationals today. Jackson told James Wagner of the Washington Post that he was interested in returning to the Nats last year but the team passed on negotiations after he turned down their one-year qualifying offer. Jackson ended up finding long-term security in the form of a four-year, $52MM deal with the Cubs.
- With Brian McCann back from the DL and Evan Gattis hitting well, the Braves could look to trade catcher Gerald Laird, speculates MLB.com's Mark Bowman. Since this could be McCann's last season in Atlanta, however, Bowman thinks the Braves will keep Laird as a veteran mentor to Gattis in 2014.
- Some other items about the Phillies, Nationals and Mets were covered earlier today by MLBTR's Jeff Todd in an edition of National League Notes.
Agent Scott Boras is likely to advise top prospect Kris Bryant as the 2013 draft approaches, according to Jack Magruder of FOXSportsArizona.com (on Twitter). With right-hander Mark Appel and left-hander Sean Manaea also in tow, Boras has three clients likely to come off of the board within the first ten picks.
All three are said to be in the mix for the Astros' No. 1 pick along with Oklahoma right-hander Jonathan Gray and Georgia high school outfielders Clint Frazier and Austin Meadows. However, the Georgia products might be at a disadvantage as Houston is said to be leaning more towards college players.
Bryant, a third baseman/outfielder out of the University of San Diego, currently leads the nation in homers and has turned heads with his power. Manaea has impressed scouts as well, but a hip issue has caused trouble for him as of late. Appel, meanwhile, is entering the draft yet again after being unable to reach agreement with the Pirates, who nabbed him with the No. 8 pick last year.
Kyle Lohse's long winter ended yesterday, as the 34-year-old righty signed a three-year, $33MM deal with the Brewers. According to Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Lohse will receive $4MM in 2013, with $7MM deferred in 2016-18, and $11MM salaries in '14 and '15. The players' union values the Lohse deal at $31.95MM over three years, factoring in the deferred money, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. The Brewers also had to surrender the 17th overall pick in the June draft, while the Cardinals gained the 28th for their loss. Lohse has been throwing bullpens and simulated games, and will begin the season on the Brewers' active roster. Let's check out some Lohse reactions and links:
- Olney doesn't think the Lohse signing made sense for the Brewers, as the loss of the draft pick means they are "drifting into more talent debt." The Brewers "pushed forward at a time when it really needed to take a step back," writes Olney.
- Keith Law, also at ESPN, feels the contract is "pretty reasonable relative to market values for starters of his caliber." Law also feels the Brewers are "sliding out of contender status," but notes that the contract seems tradeable later on. Lohse did not receive a no-trade clause, noted Rosenthal.
- Agent Scott Boras "doesn't lose, even if he didn't exactly win" on the Lohse deal, writes Jeff Sullivan of FanGraphs. Lohse should have gotten a higher average annual value, writes Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, but he's not convinced the new draft pick compensation system needs an overhaul.
- "When you have a system that does not reward performance, you know we have something corrupt in the major league process," Boras told Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports. Boras says baseball should remove the financial motivation for teams to lose, as the worst teams receive the largest pools of draft dollars. The current system allows bad teams to make up ground on the good ones, which wasn't possible before, Astros GM Jeff Luhnow said on Law's podcast a few weeks ago. Is it fair, though, that the Astros have significantly more draft dollars to spend than the Nationals? It's good for parity, though teams don't necessarily lose because of their market size.
- "Losing the first-round pick is tough, but that's a decision we had to make," GM Doug Melvin told reporters including Haudricourt.
Baseball’s most prominent agent says the integrity of the sport has been damaged by its collective bargaining agreement. MLB’s top labor executive says the system works, even though one prominent player remains jobless. Within a telling piece at USA Today, Bob Nightengale reports that agent Scott Boras and MLB executive VP Rob Manfred are at odds over the current CBA.
Boras argues that the basic agreement encourages teams to finish with poor records. The clubs that finish with the worst records are able to spend more freely on amateur players.
"The integrity of the game has been compromised,'' Boras told Nightengale. "What baseball has done, it has created a dynamic where draft dollars are affecting the Major Leaguers. Teams are constructing clubs to be non-competitive, like Houston and Miami, so they can position themselves where they can get more draft dollars. Clubs are trying to finish last to create more draft dollars. And this dramatically affects the Wild Card and Major League standings.''
Kyle Lohse, the top unsigned free agent, has suggested in recent months that the new draft pick compensation rules have limited his leverage (latest Lohse rumors here). His agent agrees. Boras argues that draft dollars are "the latest currency" for MLB general managers.
“And the best way to earn draft dollars is to sabotage your Major League team and finish last,'' he said.
In the past teams didn’t mind surrendering a first round draft pick to sign a prominent player, Boras said. The clubs could simply spend over-slot on players in later rounds, a practice that is no longer permitted in the same way.
“Now, you've taken away the structure of the scouting and developing,” Boras said. “They have stolen our youth. They have kidnapped our children in this system.''
Manfred explained that the agreement won’t be changed to accommodate one player.
"It is important to focus on all the changes to the system of draft choice compensation,'' Manfred told Nightengale. "A large number of players were freed from the burden of compensation completely, and those players undoubtedly received better contracts as a result. We have not heard anyone raising questions as to whether the system is working for those players.”
Manfred points out that with the exception of Lohse the nine players who declined qualifying offers obtained substantial contracts.
"The fact that one Scott Boras client has not signed does not convince me that the system is broken,'' Manfred said.
Agent Larry Reynolds represents B.J. Upton, another player who hit free agency after declining his former team’s qualifying offer. Reynolds told Nightengale it would be “misleading” to suggest that draft pick compensation is the lone variable that determines a free agent’s value.