Scott Boras Rumors
The latest notes and rumors from Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports...
- At least one team has inquired about Alfonso Soriano, Morosi reports. The Cubs outfielder earns $18MM per season through 2014, so the Cubs will presumably cover most of his salary in a trade.
- Four general managers say Cliff Lee isn’t yet formally available, according to Rosenthal and Morosi. Yet other executives expect the Phillies to consider trade offers for the left-hander this week. Lee, who has three years and $87.5MM remaining on his contract after this season, can block trades to 21 teams. The Rangers and Yankees are not among those teams, Rosenthal and Morosi report. The FOX Sports reporters suggest Rangers GM Jon Daniels prefers Lee to Cole Hamels.
- Agent Scott Boras now represents Tigers outfielder Brennan Boesch, Morosi reports (on Twitter). Be sure to check MLBTR’s Agency Database for data on which agents represent which MLB players.
- The Dodgers could trade for Shane Victorino or Hunter Pence even if the team gets Ryan Dempster to go along with Hanley Ramirez, Rosenthal reports (on Twitter). The Dodgers have been in talks with the Phillies, who are eager to move Pence, according to Rosenthal.
- The Cubs continue discussing Matt Garza with multiple suitors, Morosi reports (on Twitter). The Dodgers appear to have serious interest in Garza.
- The Royals are talking with teams about possible trades involving closer Jonathan Broxton, Morosi reports (on Twitter).
With the Pirates looking for their first interleague sweep in 11 years, GM Neal Huntington met with reporters before the game, including Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (via Sulia).
- On signing first round draft choice Mark Appel, Huntington says "it's a challenging sign." Scott Boras is advising Appel and Biertempfel references other Boras clients who were tough signs but came to terms. Biertempfel thinks negotiations will heat up as the July 13 deadline approaches.
- Huntington was asked about dealing with Boras, "We've dealt with him a handful of times, both on the amateur market and on Major League free-agent market. He's ... There's a reason he's negotiated all the contracts he's negotiated. It, uh ... it is what it is."
- Huntington described the team's sales pitch to its draft picks, "We talk about who we are as an organization, the success that's coming through our deep and talented farm system and the role they can play in that. You throw the money at them and sometimes that's the final, and maybe only, deciding factor."
- The Mets have “pretty much stopped pursuing” left-handed hitting outfielders, Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweets. The Mets had been linked to free agents such as Raul Ibanez, Kosuke Fukudome and Johnny Damon, but it now appears that they’ll take a wait-and-see approach.
- Reds GM Walt Jocketty told Mark Sheldon of MLB.com that the team isn’t any closer to an extension with Brandon Phillips. The GM said the sides haven’t had the chance to talk and hope to discuss a deal within a few weeks.
- Brewers GM Doug Melvin told ESPN.com’s Buster Olney that he is committed to giving Mat Gamel a shot at developing into a Major League regular in 2012.
- Assistant GM Thad Levine acknowledged the Rangers could go to a hearing with one or more of their arbitration eligible players, ESPNDallas’ Richard Durrett reports. Andrus recently agreed to terms on a three-year extension, but Mike Napoli and Nelson Cruz remain unsigned, as MLBTR’s Arbitration Tracker shows.
- Nationals media relations manager Bill Gluvna resigned and took a marketing and public relations job with the Boras Corporation, Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post reports.
- Dave Cameron of FanGraphs presented ten of the best offseason moves, and Hiroki Kuroda, Edwin Jackson and Carlos Beltran all made appearances on the list.
- Dodgers assistant GM Logan White discussed Zach Lee, Kershaw, Nathan Eovaldi and drafting young pitchers with David Laurila of FanGraphs.
Ryan Madson has agreed to sign with the Reds, but it wasn’t so long ago that he and the Phillies seemed close to a four-year, $44MM deal. It’s not clear what happened between Madson, agent Scott Boras, Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. and Phillies president David Montgomery, but Boras and Amaro have different accounts of the process. Boras says the sides agreed to a four-year, $44MM deal at which point the Phillies moved on.
"It's very simple," Boras told ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick. "We never rejected any offer from Philadelphia at four years and $44 million. We advised Philadelphia that we would agree to such a proposal. And Philadelphia decided upon hearing that to go in a different direction."
Amaro has a different account of what happened leading up to the Phillies’ deal with Jonathan Papelbon. He told Crasnick that Madson and the Phillies never agreed to a deal.
"There's no question we had discussions with Ryan about bringing him back,” Amaro said. “We had several discussions about it. But no agreement was made. If we had come to an agreement, we would have signed him.''
Amaro has said Montgomery knew where discussions between Madson and the Phillies stood all along. However, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com has heard that the sides were discussing details such as incentives when Amaro explained that he’d need to run the deal past Montgomery. Boras told Crasnick Madson had "numerous offers" on the table before agreeing to terms with Cincinnati.
Nationals GM Mike Rizzo says his position on Prince Fielder has not changed since the Winter Meetings, according to Amanda Comak of the Washington Times. Washington is committed to Adam LaRoche and first base is “settled,” the GM said. Rizzo acknowledged Fielder’s value, saying he’ll help any club he’s with, but pointed out that the Nationals are often bandied about as a possible suitor for unsigned Scott Boras clients. Here are the details on Fielder:
- The Nationals appear to be “deep in the mix” for Fielder and as many as eight other teams are showing some level of interest, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com.
- Some Marlins executives have said they aren’t going to pursue Fielder, but it appears some front office members are intrigued, according to Heyman.
- The Cubs and Blue Jays don’t appear to be willing to offer more than five years, according to Heyman.
- ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick previews what lies ahead for Boras’ many remaining unsigned clients, including the ‘PF Flyer.’ Crasnick says we can’t count out the Cubs, who are lingering on the fringe of the Fielder sweepstakes.
- One GM called the Mariners a "darkhorse" for Fielder and suggested GM Jack Zduriencik may feel pressure to respond to splashy moves by the Rangers and Angels.
No offseason is truly quiet at the Boras Corporation, which usually represents a top free agent or two and always prepares for arbitration cases and extensions. But to this point, the 2011-12 offseason has been relatively slow for the Newport Beach-based agency -- at least in terms of actual deals. As MLBTR's Transaction Tracker shows, the Boras Corp. has found modest two-year contracts for Bruce Chen and Willie Bloomquist and one-year deals for Andrew Brackman and Gerald Laird.
It won’t be quiet for much longer. Four of the top five remaining free agents on MLBTR’s top 50 list -- Prince Fielder (2), Edwin Jackson (6), Ryan Madson (14) and Carlos Pena (16) -- are Boras clients. In total, five of the 17 unsigned free agents from MLBTR’s top 50 list are Boras clients, including the top three. Johnny Damon (39), and unranked free agents such as Ivan Rodriguez, Andruw Jones, J.D. Drew, Magglio Ordonez, Ryan Spilborghs, Jason Varitek, Rick Ankiel, Mike Gonzalez and Kevin Millwood join Fielder, Jackson, Madson and Pena on Boras’ list of unsigned clients.
The Boras Corp. hasn’t brokered a deal in recent weeks, but Boras has grabbed headlines on MLBTR and elsewhere by invoking names such as Bonds, Foxx and Gehrig while discussing Fielder and comparing Jackson to Yu Darvish. Though we can debate the validity of the comparisons, there’s no denying Boras now represents the best hitter available, the best starter available, the best closer available and a host of complementary players. Boras has waited the market out for this long, but with Spring Training in the not-so-distant future, it seems inevitable that the quiet offseason will soon pick up and many of Boras’ clients will agree to deals by the end of January.
Agent Scott Boras told Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports that Prince Fielder hasn’t signed because the process of acquainting MLB owners with the first baseman and his many accomplishments has been time consuming. As always Boras has some memorable quotes, so let's move on to some highlights from his talk with Rosenthal:
- “It takes a bit longer because these are ownership decisions,” Boras said of the negotiations' slow pace. “I’ve got to sit down with owners. There are a lot of them interested in Prince.”
- Boras pointed out that attendance is up in Milwaukee and suggested Fielder can increase the value of a franchise by attracting fans to the ballpark and obtaining an improved local TV deal.
- The agent argued that sluggers like Fielder have “retention value and attraction value” that helps franchises keep their stars and attract new ones. “When you have that guy in the middle of the lineup, it’s, ‘Oh yeah, I want to play with him,’” Boras said. “Jeff Kent won an MVP hitting behind Barry Bonds. Ryan Braun won an MVP hitting in front of Fielder.”
- Boras made it clear that Fielder’s market isn’t limited to teams with vacancies at first base. “Prince is not in any way a normal free agent,” he said. “Owners will move players off their teams that already occupy positions to get him.”
- Fielder has personally met with several owners.
- Boras repeated that Fielder is a viable option for teams that aren’t poised to contend in 2012.
- Fielder’s leadership ability is unparalleled, according to Boras. “The man in the batter’s box and the man in the locker room are two very different people," he said. "The man in the locker room is an ambassador, a very sincere and understanding man. In the batter’s box, he is out there, literally uncaged.”
Here's the latest on the arms race from around the majors...
- Edwin Jackson and John Danks have comparable numbers over the last three years, which is why Mike Axisa of the River Ave Blues blog thinks Scott Boras will use Danks' recent extension with the White Sox as a model for Jackson in free agency. "Now I know hearing five years and $65M+ for Jackson is a little wacky, just because he [doesn't] come off as the type of pitcher deserving of that kind of commitment...but I refuse to bet against Boras," Axisa writes.
- "Anytime you hear a pitcher's name, you can safely say the Marlins are in," a National League source tells Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald. Matt Garza, Roy Oswalt, Wandy Rodriguez and Joe Saunders are all mentioned as possibilities for the Fish, though if the Marlins didn't have the minor league talent to acquire Gio Gonzalez and Mat Latos, it's hard to see them being able to deal for Garza. Rodriguez is a possibility since I'd guess Houston's larger concern is getting his salary off the books rather than obtaining a large haul of prospects.
- Speaking of Saunders, he talked to Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic about the negotiations between he and the Diamondbacks. Arizona offered Saunders a two-year, $12MM deal and Saunders' camp countered with a three-year, $27MM deal. The D'Backs never made a counter, and though Saunders said he then offered to take a two-year contract worth around $16MM, the club non-tendered him and moved on. I've got to side with the D'Backs in this case -- with the rest of their rotation so cost-controlled, if you're going to splurge on a starter, you can spend your money on a better pitcher than Saunders (perhaps Hiroki Kuroda).
- The Mariners not only shouldn't trade Felix Hernandez, argues Shannon Drayer of ESPN 710 Seattle, but if the team absolutely feels the need to swap a starter, they should deal Michael Pineda instead. Dreyer calls Pineda "replaceable...There is a very good chance that by the end of next season Danny Hultzen could be Michael Pineda on the hill in regards to development, path, and what he brings to the rotation."
- Kevin Goldstein of ESPN (Insider subscription required) presented 10 Major League scouts and executives with a field of Matt Garza, Zack Greinke, Ian Kennedy, Ricky Nolasco and Justin Verlander and asked the question, "Based on talent alone, would you take Yu Darvish ahead of this pitcher?" Aside from the Verlander comparison, Rangers fans will heartily enjoy the other answers.
There’s more finesse to Scott Boras’ sales pitch than there is to Prince Fielder’s swing, but neither man holds back. In Dallas this week Boras argued that the free agent first baseman can invigorate a fan base and strengthen a lineup, invoking Hall of Famers Jimmie Foxx and Lou Gehrig to put Fielder’s career in context and show that comparable power hitters rarely becomes available in free agency. But Boras has compared Oliver Perez to Sandy Koufax, so it’s prudent to take what he says in context. Here are some highlights from Boras’ conversation with reporters. I’ve added a little context when necessary:
Boras on Fielder’s power:
“All of a sudden, you see who has this many home runs by the age of 27 at first base and you see Jimmie Foxx and Lou Gehrig and the list is only four guys. Then you start looking at what accomplishments this man has had at such a young age. You go back and look and say ‘how often do you get free agents who have got that kind of power production and that on-base percentage -- a .400 on-base percentage and slugging near 40 home runs.’ When you start to analyze, you realize we certainly have a decade player.”
In fact, just three first basemen have had this many home runs (230) through their age-27 season: Fielder, Foxx and Albert Pujols. Fielder-level production is rare, even at a power position.
Foxx had 302 home runs and a career .339/.440/.640 line through his age-27 season (174 OPS+). Gehrig had 187 home runs and a career .342/.443/.639 line through his age-27 season (179 OPS+). Both had their names engraved on MVP trophies by that point. Fielder, who doesn't have an MVP to his name despite three top-five finishes, has 230 home runs with a .282/.390/.540 line in his career (143 OPS+). Foxx and Gehrig were more dominant relative to the competition, but Boras didn't say Fielder was better than the two Hall of Famers. He said his client compares well to them from a home run standpoint, which is true.
Boras on Fielder’s body:
“Everyone talks to me about Prince’s body, but when you have that 5’11” strike zone, that is a huge advantage and that’s why that on-base percentage is sitting there. Those pitchers have to put the ball into a smaller window and I believe that it’s more difficult to do.”
Though the small strike zone may help Fielder, it remains possible that his weight will prevent him from aging well. Fielder is now a passable first baseman, but his defense will decline over the life of his next contract. At some point he’ll presumably become a DH, which may create hesitation on the part of National League suitors.
Boras on Fielder’s age
“The great thing about young free agents is the probability of performance not dropping off is so high for the majority of the years of the contract. We’re not talking about signing a 32-year-old free agent.”
There’s no question that Fielder’s youth makes him attractive. Pujols, a 31-year-old, managed to obtain a ten-year deal, so Fielder figures to obtain multiple offers in the eight to ten-year range as well.
Boras on the possibility of a short-term deal:
“To attract players to a franchise, you’re going to want that [star] player there for a long time. You don’t want people to know the time is coming for him to leave. People say ‘why don’t you do a three-year deal?’ That doesn’t fit anybody’s purposes. The length of contract has a lot to do with an understanding from both sides of what franchise players are and what they mean. The branding part, the media rights part -- all of those things go into that and while the initial concept is shorter is better, the reality is with these types of players it’s usually not the best dynamic for the franchise.”
Here’s a rough translation: dream away, but a short-term deal is not happening.
Boras on the availability of other young power bats:
“Let’s project: ‘what under 28 players are coming?’ Then all of a sudden you see [Joey] Votto will be 30 or 29 and you start paring it down. [Miguel] Cabrera was one of them, but he never made it to free agency. So you look inside the game at the younger core that’s coming and you’d say ‘there’s no one.’ You’re going to have to hit 50 home runs in your second year or 44 home runs in your fourth year. You’re going to have to average 37 home runs in this period of time. Who’s going to do that?”
Mike Stanton and Boras client Bryce Harper are two powerful, young players who will likely hit free agency in their mid-twenties if they don’t sign extensions first. Other teams have to develop power themselves or rely on older free agents. Boras has a point here.
Boras on Fielder’s prime:
“When you’re talking about premium years by management, you think ‘well premium years are usually this 27-36.’ But when you’ve got a guy who has performed from 22 to 26 over that five-year period, he has more home runs in that five years than Albert Pujols. He has Albert Pujols-type numbers and those aren’t even his premium years yet. And Albert Pujols is the best hitter we’ve seen since [Barry] Bonds. So when you see that you realize people come in to the market -- and you can’t expect every team to be prepared to the level that we are -- but we really want to point out that no matter what type of club you are, when you acquire this for your fan base, you’re definitely going to have something that not only is a rarity in the game currently, because he’s so young, you can project five years ahead and he’ll be 32. Normally when someone’s a free agent, you’re not getting that level of prime years.”
Will Fielder’s prime extend into his mid-thirties? It’s doubtful. Few players in the post-steroid era manage to produce as late into their careers as Bonds did. Boras suggests Fielder’s prime will extend until he’s 36, but that surely exceeds most teams’ estimates by at least a few years.
Photo courtesy Icon SMI.
Let's look at some news from both the AL and NL West....
- The Rangers have scouted 19-year-old Cuban defector Jorge Soler, reports MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan. Texas is one of a few teams who have interest in Soler, who Sullivan says "might have more offensive upside" than the heavily-scouted Yoenis Cespedes.
- Bill Center of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports that Adrian Gonzalez has been lobbying the Red Sox to check in on several Padres, including Heath Bell and strength/conditioning coach Jim Malone. Boston is known to have an interest in Bell as a possible replacement for Jonathan Papelbon in the Red Sox bullpen. Center also discusses San Diego's own closing situation among other topics as part of his weekly online chat with Padres fans.
- Rockies third base prospect Nolan Arenado has hired Scott Boras as his agent, tweets ESPN's Jerry Crasnick. Arenado was represented by the Beverly Hills Sports Council when Colorado picked him in the second round of the 2009 draft. Arenado, 20, has enjoyed a strong start to his pro career, compiling an .829 OPS in his first three seasons ranging from rookie league to high-A ball.
- The Mariners can afford Prince Fielder, writes Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times and "aversion to risk is how mediocre teams stay bad a long, long time." Baker figures that if the Mariners "eat most of the remaining cash on the Chone Figgins contract" and deal Jason Vargas or Brandon League, the club can afford the slugging first baseman. MLBTR's Tim Dierkes picked Seattle as Fielder's landing spot in his top 50 free agent predictions.