The ‘Super Agent’ Is Just Super Bad
By Cam Giangrande
Scott Boras is the Antichrist. OK, that may be a bit harsh, but he, as much as anything, is hurting the game of baseball. His assault on the league has been going on for years. He is the super agent who controls about 8% of all MLB players. He has been dubbed, “The 100 Million Dollar Agent”, having negotiated deals of nine figures for 14 MLB players through the years. More than half of those deals can be dubbed duds.
Prince Fielder, Jacoby Ellsbury, Shin-Soo Choo, Chris Davis, Mark Teixeira, Barry Zito and Jayson Werth, all became extremely wealthy thanks to Scott Boras. Indirectly, Boras has made many other MLB players wealthy, simply by brokering those deals, because a rising tide raises all boats.
In the meantime, there has been a deeper and deeper chasm forming between the haves and the have-nots: the large market teams like the Yankees, Red Sox, and Dodgers, versus the small market teams, like the Royals, Rays, and Pirates. It hasn’t been good for the competitive balance of the game. To compete, teams have resorted to a strategy of “tanking”, which doesn’t mean they are throwing games, a la the Black Sox, but constructing the team with young or less talented players, knowing the final result would be losing far more than winning. After a few years of losing, the team can stockpile highly touted prospects to make a run at a championship.
The Royals went this route, drafting a terrific core of young players, and ultimately winning a World Series in 2015. The Cubs went this route, and won the World Series in 2016. The Astros went this route, and won the World Series last season. The by-product of this is that younger players are under team control and have team-friendly contracts. For teams like the Cubs, it doesn’t matter because they can spend money. But for teams like the Royals, this is the only way they can stay relevant.
Jose Altuve’s new extension is one of a handful of notable signings leading up to the 2018 MLB season & all of these were for clients of “super agent” Scott Boras pic.twitter.com/NHnRb6fL9n
— StatsCentre (@StatsCentre) March 17, 2018
We’ve seen it this offseason; the Royals had to contend with Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Lorenzo Cain, and Alcides Escobar all going to free agency. Boras represents both Hosmer and Moustakas. Boras approached this offseason as he’s approached all the ones in years past. He held his clients back: aside from Hosmer and Moustakas, Boras also represented Carlos Gonzalez, Jake Arrieta, Jonathan Lucroy, and J.D. Martinez.
Boras completely misjudged the market. Instead of realizing teams would be holding money, waiting for the historic 2018 free agency class, which will be led by Bryce Harper, (also a Boras client), Manny Machado, Josh Donaldson, Charlie Blackmon, and realistically Clayton Kershaw, who has an opt-out clause at the end of the season; he treated this offseason the same as any other. The result: doing an extreme disservice to his clients.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I hate bloated contracts to under-performing over-valued players, but I also hate players being given terrible advice by a self-serving agent who is only concerned with lining his pockets. Boras notoriously advises his clients to always hit free agency, and not re-negotiate with his team. With this mentality, the days of George Brett, Cal Ripken, and Derek Jeter playing for one team are gone. That is another reason the sport may have lost some luster. It’s tough to stay passionate and root for players who come and go like they’re moving through a turnstile. These players are merely hired guns. There is no loyalty left…and much of that rests on the shoulders of agents, specifically, Super Agents like Boras.
In a way; seeing what happened this offseason, has been comical to watch. Seeing Martinez blowing in the wind, while Boras desperately tried to create a market, was devilishly funny. Of course, nobody will have a bake sale for Martinez, who ended up getting a 5/110M deal. (Boras was shooting for 7/210M). And let’s look at how other Boras clients have fared this offseason.
Other than Hosmer, who did get his price; (an eight-year deal worth 144M), the rest of his clients struck out. Boras advised Moustakas to reject the Royals’ qualifying offer of 17.4M…he ended up signing for 6.5M. I have to believe the Yankees would have given him more. Gonzalez was advised to turn down a three-year 45M deal last year from the Rockies…only to sign with them this offseason for a one-year 8M deal. Lucroy had a three -ear, 21M deal on the table from the Rockies. He rejected it and ended up taking a one-year deal from the A’s for 6.5M. As of today, Greg Holland isn’t signed yet, while relief pitchers are signing left and right, for record numbers. And, in looking at Hosmer’s deal more closely, was it truly the best deal. The Royals wanted Hosmer back and were willing to pay to have him be the team’s centerpiece. They offered him a 7/140M deal; 20M per year, which actually is a better deal than the one he ultimately accepted with the Padres.
Sometimes I realize teams need to change course, and I know players often want a fresh start with a new team, but overall, agents like Boras should do a better job of counseling their clients. And, they should take as much time and effort with their least important client as they do with their superstars.
I’m confident that Harper will get his money next season, and Boras will be there to put the jersey on his back. Frankly, I could do the same or better job in negotiating a contract for Harper; it won’t take that much skill to negotiate that deal. Let’s see, Harper will be entering his age 26 season in 2019. A 13-year deal will carry him through age 38. He wants to set a mark; 13/500M would get it done. However, if he wanted to stay with the Nationals, and potentially take less, a truly good agent would support that decision…no way Boras would support that decision. Let’s see how much time and effort Boras gives to his second and third tier clients next season.
The bottom line is this: Boras, and his ilk, are bad for the game of baseball.