“For Boras, when does this start being about his clients’ doing what they love in their work and playing baseball?”

December 12th, 2006 → 3:08 pm @ // No Comments

Insider of my trying to comment on/summarize this, you really should just read Buster Olney’s column on ESPN.com; it’s great. Here are some pertinent sections:

“‘If I represent you,’ [Boras] has told some players in so many words, ‘only I do the negotiating.’ Their impression is that he wants 100 percent control. ‘Why would I do that?’ one player mused, looking back on the day that Boras tried to sign him as a high school senior. ‘It’s my life.’ When Boras negotiates, club executives sometimes wonder whether all the facts — whether every piece of every offer — gets through to the player. They never know, and it scares the hell out of them; Boras is the funnel through which all the information is channeled. This is why Theo Epstein and Larry Lucchino flew to California late, why they rode on John Henry’s private plane, why they’ve become so open and outspoken about their negotiations.” …

“And you’d have to wonder: For Scott Boras, when does this stop becoming a chase of dollars and start being about his clients’ doing what they love in their work and playing baseball?” …

“Matsuzaka has never pitched a day in the major leagues, and it could be that when Boras is finished haggling, the pitcher could make $10 million in his first year in the majors, and more after that. Much more.

But with every passing day, with every delay, with every insistence upon more dollars, Boras is effectively placing more pressure on the shoulders of his client, who already is facing an enormous adjustment if he signs to play in Boston. And if Boras/Matsuzaka don’t sign, if the agent’s filibuster continues and they try to make the pitcher the Curt Flood of the Japanese posting system, you have to wonder whether it really will be worth it, in the end, for Matsuzaka.”

Post Categories: Keith Foulke & NESN & Nomar Garciaparra & Roger Clemens

7 Comments → ““For Boras, when does this start being about his clients’ doing what they love in their work and playing baseball?””

  1. tinisoli

    17 years ago

    Presumably Boras would start to care about “his clients’ doing what they love in their work and playing baseball” if his clients were not primarily interested in making as much money as possible.

    Olney seems to be suggesting that Boras, as a rule, keeps his naive clients totally in the dark and only lets them know what’s on the table when he himself is satisfied with an offer. If this is true, which seems highly unlikely given the ease with which players can learn from other sources what’s on the table, then it’s the player’s choice to put himself in the position of being a willfully ignorant whore to Boras the Devil Pimp. (A highly-paid whore, yes, but when you consider the number of clients Boras has, he may be richer than any one of them, including ARod.) If, hypothetically, Johnny Damon was not fully aware of what was or wasn’t really on the table during negotations for his services last winter because he agreed to Boras’ alleged policy, that’s his own damn choice. It doesn’t let him or any other player off the hook for having made a choice. We are awfully quick to blame front offices and agents for decisions that are made, either passively or openly, by the players. The “gee whiz” air of bewildered humility that some players put on when their agent lands them a huge contract is either patently dishonest or deeply delusional.

    ARod can argue ’til he’s blue in the face (not just the lips) that his sickening $250 million contract was simply what the market bore at the time, but he knows that contract negotation is not like playing the slots at Foxwoods. (Perhaps if he regarded his contract, and his choice, with some kind of personal responsibility he wouldn’t think of it as an albatross that he didn’t ask for or deserve.) Likewise, Johnny Damon’s simplistic suggestion that whoever ponies up the most $$ for his services on the baseball field is the team that “wants him the most.” Free agents can essentially play wherever they want; and Daisuke Matsuzaka can, as Edes put it, decide to be his own daddy.


  2. maineiac

    17 years ago

    What Borass is able to do through his “my way or the highway” approach is insulate his clients from bad publicity. I am sure he presents it to the player with the caveat that he needs to be 100% in control to ensure that any negative from the contract will get directed at him rather than the player. The player plays dumb and keeps his fan base. With that and the potential for the most money possible, what player wouldn’t use Borass as their agent.

    Look at the undoing of Nomar’s legacy in Red Sox Nation. There wasn’t the evil agent just the stupid agent, and as Seth’s book points out the player himself. Arn Tellem kept Nomar in the loop but the deal wasn’t an Arod or Jeter deal…if Borass was his agent, Nomar’s black mark wouldn’t have been the type that only a World Series win wipes clean.

    If Borass really knew that Dice-K was one of the absolute top pitchers in MLB, he should accept a low dollar six year contract with plenty of incentives. Extra $2 million each time he hits 20 wins, $2 million for each Cy Young, $2 million each time he is a World Series MVP, etc. Then once he gets to the level of Beckett, Schilling, etc. he will be compensated accordingly. The Red Sox have already risked $51.1 million on his unproven abilities in MLB and will undoubtedly risk more through his contract. If Borass is assured of Dice-K’s elite status, incentives (plus all the endorsements that will follow) will get him more money that he can spend.


  3. george

    17 years ago

    This is Boras’s opportunity too, not just DM’s. Japan apparently is the new frontier, SB knows a wee bit about marketing and why should we expect him to pass up free daily advertising. This should go down to the last minute, for fear is SB’s sole leverage and time maximizes his own marketing purposes. The sox have blinked first, all SB really needs is the highest contract ever to a Japan player, that keeps him center stage here and Japan. Common ground probly is an out at less than six years with a total package greater than the posting amount. I believe the Sox blundered by not immediately offering DM a contract in excess of the posting amount, to not do so reinforced an underlying and growing criticism that the sox are a little too slick. While it’s ok to use the system to your best advantage, consideration(or at least create the public perception you care)should be taken to see who’s getting the short end of things, of course given the dollars involved that’s a short straw I’ll gladly take.


  4. Ogie Oglethorpe

    17 years ago

    Way off base on a couple of points George:

    A. Boras or any other savy negotiator would not accept the first offer. That is Negotiating 101. The first offer is a STARTING point. So, if the Sox came in guns blazing with a 12 million/6 year offer then Boras figures that they are at least good for 15-17 million/6 years. So basically all you are doing is costing yourself more money in the end.

    B. You don’t shell out 51.1 million for the rights to a player in his prime for the next 6 seasons, when he will be doing his best work, and then negotiate away some of those years. All that does is raise the AAV that you are paying for that player.

    This suggestion keeps surfacing because that is what the Yankees did with Matsui. Matsui was a FREE AGENT, meaning that he could have signed with anybody. Boras could have shopped him around if the Yanks did not comply with this demand. Dice-K has two choices: play with the Sox or go back to Japan. Boras has no leverage to get that done in this case.

    I also think that if Dice-K does not sign that this will seriously hurt Boras in Japan. I don’t think any players will sign with him if he pulls this take my ball and go home routine.


  5. obnoxiousmime

    17 years ago

    The player who was quoted as saying (in high school, no less) “it’s my life” is clearly an intelligent person who was more capable and mature than most his age. Unfortunately, I don’t think all athletes are that smart. Some know what they’re getting with Boras, some don’t. Matsuzaka could fall under the naive category because he is a foreigner and new to the league and how it operates.

    However, he could have told Boras to get it done for the most money possible and then went home to play video games for a month, fully expecting his agent to take care of it, and as long as he does end up signing before the deadline, all the acrimony from the negotiations will be forgotten quickly.

    Boras is trying all he can to get as much money from the Sox and stalling and pretending Matsuzaka has other options are his only tactics. Matsuzaka is not going back, but Boras has to create uncertainty so he’s throwing out scenarios that MLB will never accept, like Matsuzaka “buying his freedom.” By criticizing the posting process, Boras is both posturing for an edge but also positioning his defense when Matsuzaka eventually settles for less than market value (minus the posting fee, of course).

    As much as people want to blame Boras, you really have to wait and see what happens. The posting process IS flawed, but Matsuzaka is not a free agent and he willingly chose to participate. He had to realize he would not get fair value that a free agent would get before he started. The Sox cannot be blamed because they did not create the system, they are just trying to compete within it the best they can. They bid an extraordinary amount because they had to, and they cannot be blamed if the system breaks down. I don’t believe it will in this case, but someday it might. MLB should reform the process before it does.


  6. george

    17 years ago

    Trying to get back to the bag

    Hi Ogie, my point wasn’t that SB would accept the offer, but rather, that by not making an offer in excess of the posting amount SB had fodder to portray DM as a victim. Remember this isn’t a normal situation, SB couldn’t shop that offer around. It’s all about making SB come to you, so far that hasn’t happened as the sox have negotiated against themselves – but I think it will, as you point out in reality SB has no leverage, and the ephemeral leverage he has created out of nothingness is gone in a day. You are absolutely right on the risk to SB, Japan is a huge opportunity for his business why risk it all on the ability to get the posting system junked. That would only end up opening the market up to every agent, rather than just him and Alan Nero.

    Ogie good point on AAV, but I still feel that common ground is at less than six years, yes the sox are giving up control, but it also reduces their risk – there are a still a lot of what ifs with DM. Remember Theo has a philosophy not to go out too long on pitchers – he prefers shorter term even at higher dollars. And who knows what the market will be like in four years, this feels kind of like a blow off top to me, no one seems concerned about a recession.



  7. zoowah

    17 years ago

    I hate to defend the Devil, but here goes:

    1. Does anyone put a gun to players’ heads when they hire Boras? No. Yet they keep hiring him when hundred of other agents are available. So he has to be doing something right: namely representing their best financial interests. And one of the best weapons in the negotiating arsenal (especially when no other team can bid in) will always be “take your contract and shove it…I’m sitting out for a year.” Don’t call them stupid for hiring Boras when they keep making the biggest bucks.

    2. There is delicious irony in Boston’s anxiety about getting Matsuzaka signed (He’s that good!)and in Boston’s loathing of Boras’ salary demands (He’s not that good!). We can’t have it both ways, friends.


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