Sneak Peeks: Scott Boras orchestrates Damon’s move to New York

July 10th, 2006 → 9:09 am @ // No Comments

This is the fifth (and last) in an occasional series of Sneak Peeks from Feeding the Monster. The section below takes place in December 2005, after Theo Epstein had quit as general manager of the Red Sox (and before he returned to the team this past January) and the Sox were negotiating with Johnny Damon’s agent, Scott Boras. You can read the rest of the book starting tomorrow, when it’ll be available in bookstores everywhere.

The situation remained stalled through much of December. By December 20, John Henry and Boras were in direct communication. Now Boras said Damon had a six-year deal ‘on the table,’ but was willing to stay with the Red Sox if they offered him five years because he loved the city and the team so much. Then, later that evening, Boras told Henry and [Red Sox assistant GM] Jed Hoyer that there was another ‘hot’ deal on the table, this one for $13 million a year for five years, totaling $65 million. The Sox had already agreed among themselves that they’d be willing to go up to at least $11 million a year for four years, but even that figure totaled some $21 million less than what Boras told the team Damon was being offered. We can’t, Henry told Boras, go that high.

That night, word began to trickle out that Damon was signing with the Yankees. This had been a scenario the Red Sox had been prepared for—back in September, Henry, Epstein, and assistant general manager Josh Byrnes had discussed how Damon could very well end up in the Bronx because of New York’s desperate need for a reliable center fielder. The Yankees, it seemed, where the mystery team who had offered the five-year, $65 million contract. But when the details of the deal finally emerged, the Red Sox were shocked to learn that Damon had signed only a four-year deal worth $13 million a year, for a total of $52 million. Damon later said he would have stayed in Boston for $11.5 million a year, just $500,000 less annually than the Red Sox had already agreed they were willing to pay him.

It turns out that Johnny Damon never had a firm six-year offer from any team, as Scott Boras had repeatedly told the Red Sox. A high-ranking official in Major League Baseball’s central office, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that as far as officials who’d been in contact with every team in baseball could tell, Damon had never even received a solid five-year offer. To Boras, any effort to weaken the bonds of loyalty a player felt to his old team would mean the possibility of more lucrative contracts. Players had traditionally been hesitant to cross the Rubicon from Boston to New York; even Damon had said just months earlier that there was ‘no way’ he could play for the Yankees even thought he knew they were ‘going to come after [him] hard.’ If Boras could orchestrate it so that Johnny Damon, one of the most popular players on one of the most popular Red Sox teams in history, switched sides, what other players might be willing to do so in the future? And how much higher might player salaries go if agents could regularly get the Yankees to bid for Red Sox free agents, and vice versa?

Post Categories: Feeding the Monster Sneak Peeks & Johnny Damon & Scott Boras

7 Comments → “Sneak Peeks: Scott Boras orchestrates Damon’s move to New York”

  1. Bring Back Pedro

    18 years ago

    This is how the Sox run players out of town. Don’t believe the lie.

    Johnny Damon, Pedro Martinez, they were Duquette guys. Theo can’t be considered a wonderboy if he is re-signing Duquette guys, so he needs to run them out of town. But he still wants to save face. So this is what Theo does (in this case, the Sox took care of the final step when Theo was out following Pearl Jam after quitting because his feelings were hurt).

    Step 1 – Reject home town discount offer for contract extension. Make sure the player goes all year knowing they aren’t really wanted.

    Step 2 – Lowball player during exclusive negotiation period (2 year offer for Pedro, 3 year $27 million deal). DO NOT make an acceptable offer during this time as the player might accept the deal. Make sure the player knows they are not really wanted and that they hit the open market.

    Step 3 – Keep your offer below market the rest of the negotiating period. Since the player is unlikely to return for a discount after being insulted, this will assure that you are not stuck with the Duquette signing, and it will also cause your unintelligent fans to believe that you wanted to re-sign the player.

    This is how Theo works. Theo’s ego is the size of Texas. He needs to have to satisfied.


  2. Nordberg

    18 years ago

    So Scott Boras lies. This surprises whom?

  3. […] Seth Mnookin is coming out with a book tomorrow that looks to be a good read: Feeding the Monster : How Money, Smarts, and Nerve Took a Team to the Top.  Today, Mr. Mnookin has realease his last preview of the book by highlighting the negotiation between agent Scott Boras and Theo Epstein over Johnny Damon’s contract [Sneak Peeks: Scott Boras orchestrates Damon’s move to New York].  It is a good look into the negotiation process between GMs and agents.  Tactics used included stalling direct communication, lying about competing offers, using a player’s wishes to remain in a certain city (whether true or false). […]


  4. Nordberg

    18 years ago

    Pedro is back all right. Back on the disabled list.
    He wanted out of the AL East because he was tired of getting his butt kicked by the Yankees.
    Theo and Co. correctly gauged that Pedro would not remain healthy through the duration of a four-year contract, which is why they chose not to match Omar Minaya’s offer.
    Look at how he pitched in Fenway last month and tell me you really wanted him back. He said the reception he received from the fans was more important to him than how he pitched. You REALLY want a guy like that?
    There’s your out-of-control ego.
    As far as Damon goes, I felt all along that sham agent Scott Boras was behind the move. Why would Boras give a rat’s butt about what’s best for a player when he can make a few more bucks. Agents like Boras are what’s killing baseball.
    Again, the Red Sox felt Damon wasn’t worth a fourth year for health reasons. And, oh, big shocker, HE’S HURT NOW!
    Don’t get me wrong, I love that he plays hurt, but he’s ALWAYS PLAYING HURT!
    My understanding has been that the Red Sox were willing to give up this year and maybe next year figuring that Damon wouldn’t be worth the money by the third and fourth years of the contract, hense, the Yankees overpaid.
    And now we know that Boras tried to lie them into a match but they didn’t bite.
    You must realize that this management group is different. They are not willing to shell out big contracts to free agents when it comes at the risk of the future.
    What if they had sacrificed $52 million over four years for Damon when farmhand Jacoby Ellsbury could be ready in two years to start in centerfield at a fraction of the price and age.
    The Yawkey, Sullivan, Duquette style is not the way the Red Sox are run, and I for one am grateful. Mr. Yawkey was a good man, but for decades under his leadership this was a poorly run franchise that always made the deals for today and not tomorrow. It had a bad farm system, catered too much to its star players and always preferred power hitting over pitching.
    That is not the way they do business anymore.
    Theo might have a big ego, but you need one in a job like that. The meek and humble will get run over in this business.
    Thanks Pedro, thanks J.D. And good luck. (p.s., good riddance.)


  6. […] doing well. * All the same, there’s no end of questions as to what’s up with Manny, why Johnny Damon was, um, traded to the Yankees, why Pedro was, uh, traded to the Mets, why the Sox didn’t make any moves at the deadline, […]

  7. […] In honor of Scott Boras’s always-entertaining deal-making: an FTM excerpt about Johnny Damon’s dishonest decamping to the Yankees. […]


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