From the heights of Scott Boras’s crowning achievement in baseball by getting $126 million for Jayson Werth, it’s come to this.
Boras’s entire reputation as the go-to agent for max dollars is hinging on how much he gets for Prince Fielder and Edwin Jackson and for how long.
Werth signed with the Nationals on December 6th, 2010; their offer was so preposterous that Boras didn’t bother to leak it to friendly reporters, nor did he try to surpass it with another potentially interested suitor. He accepted it immediately because it was so insane.
It’s gone poorly for him since then.
At mid-season 2011, Francisco Rodriguez made a high-profile change from Paul Kinzer to Boras; K-Rod had a limited no-trade clause in his contract and before Boras could submit a list of teams to which K-Rod could not be traded, Mets GM Sandy Alderson shipped the reliever to the Brewers where he was forced to be a set-up man; K-Rod also agreed to eliminate his appearance kicker of $17.5 million in exchange for free agency at the end of the season. When the closer’s market dried up and with few options to get a long-term deal, K-Rod accepted the Brewers offer of arbitration; unless they trade him, he’s not going to close for them in 2012 either.
Carlos Beltran and Mark Teixeira both fired him.
Jose Reyes resisted Boras’s overtures to leave the Greenbergs.
Ryan Madson thought he had an overpriced deal with the Phillies before something—no one seems to know what—happened to sabotage a $44 million contract; the Phillies walked away from Madson and signed Jonathan Papelbon.
Boras’s remaining free agent clients includes Johnny Damon, Manny Ramirez, Jason Varitek, Rick Ankiel; Ivan Rodriguez and J.D. Drew.
Damon will play in 2012, but he’s not getting a long-term contract; Ramirez is calling around on his own looking for work; Varitek could find a job somewhere, but does he want to put on a non-Red Sox uniform without the “C” on his chest? Ankiel will get a job, but it might be as a fourth outfielder; Pudge will sign somewhere and as a part-timer; Drew sounds willing to play, but he’s doing his “J.D. Drew thing”—if someone pays him and it’s the “right” situation, he’ll sign.
The new collective bargaining agreement affects Boras’s usual draft dance with what amounts to a salary cap on bonuses and a tighter slotting system to discourage heavy payouts. This makes it impossible for Boras to hold clubs hostage with demands for Major League contracts for his drafted clients.
On the positive side, somehow Boras coaxed the Diamondbacks into giving journeyman Willie Bloomquist a 2-year, $3.8 million deal; and Bruce Chen finally has some moderate security with a contract for 2-years and $9 million with the Royals.
Fielder is said to want a 10-year contract and presumably he’s looking for $200+ million; Jackson will want what C.J. Wilson received—nearly $80 million.
Jackson has plenty of options because pitching is so scarce; Fielder doesn’t.
It’s been a bad year.
But Boras has pulled so many tricks out of his evil pouch so many times that it’s unwise to doubt him.
His grip on baseball’s heart could be loosening.
Or he might find a way to tighten it.
The cornered animal is at its most dangerous.
Especially the Boras species.