Rumored Price For Boras Clients Surface

April 7th, 2008 · 12 Comments

By Kiley McDaniel

Scott Boras is without a doubt the highest profile agent in sports history and many of his methods are heavily debated. A few teams deal with him with no fear, some allow him to out-leverage them, others just don’t deal with him at all. That being said, until recently, he seemed to always get his clients the best deal they could have gotten.

One tactic Boras utilizes for his top-shelf talents in the draft is float a seemingly ridiculous bonus demand early. We have the rumors of the early number Boras has put on two of his top clients for the June draft and a breakdown of said methods, all after the jump…

(Pedro Alvarez photo credit: Vanderbilt University)

We’ve been told that the number Boras is floating for Vanderbilt 3B Pedro Alvarez is a $9.5 million major league deal, and for Florida prep 1B Eric Hosmer, a $7 million bonus.

At first glance, both of those numbers look at least $3 million higher than they should be. So why would Boras do this? Does he think this will get his clients more money? Doesn’t it just turn teams off to anyone he represents? Is this even news?

I’ll answer the last question first: it is news, but it probably shouldn’t be. This is exactly what Boras wants people to do, to make his demands sound outrageous and make himself a polarizing subject. He feeds off of these perceptions later. We’re merely running this story/rumors to hit a discussion on this topic and kick off draft rumor season around here.

It is worth noting at this point that other sources have heard numbers from $9.5 million up into the mid-teens for Alvarez and numbers as low as $4 million for Hosmer.

Some industry insiders suggest Boras derives these numbers from blindfolding himself and throwing darts with the names of his top talents on them at a dartboard of numbers $5 million and greater, then uses that number (and other randomly-generated numbers, depending on the situation) to teams to figure out who will pay the most. He then does whatever he has to, to steer his players to that team or teams, including throwing out an even higher number to ensure his player slips, usually to the rich teams later in the draft.

This sounds like a good strategy, if not an incredibly irritating one for everyone involved. The reason Boras doesn’t get every amateur player to go with him is three-fold: 1) he hasn’t gotten the best deal every time lately (the A-Rod press hurt him) 2) he doesn’t talk to the player/family at all between hiring him and signing the contract and 3) similar to #2, he has an enormous ego.

One key example of this ego is from this past off-season. One big league Boras client was negotiating a long-term deal and wanted to stay with his team if they offered a fair price. It has been confirmed to me by multiple sources that the team’s offer was in the range Boras and the player agreed that they would accept. So, once negotiations stalled with the offer still in the acceptable range, an independent third party told the player the offer, and the player was shocked he didn’t know of the offer and immediately accepted, and the deal was consummated in spite of Boras.

Why did the player’s agent, his employee, do this? Boras obviously either thought that he could get more, or that he’d gain something by holding his client out for longer. If you like that school of negotiating, then you might already be a Boras client. If you just wanted to stay with your team at a fair price, like this player did, this agent will just give you a headache and often not do what the player tells him to do. To some degree, the blame is on the player for not knowing what he was getting into.

Doesn’t it just turn teams off to anyone he represents? Not really, because he doesn’t do this with every client, just ones that have the leverage: top high school prospects that can go to college and elite college talents that demand “out-of-the-box” contracts. Look at Matt LaPorta and Mark Pawelek in recent years—non-elite talents with teams that bite on them in the high-end of the expected drafting range and Boras gets basically a slot deal. His service for that kind of player (he only has a few non-elite guys each draft) is to find that team.

Why does he do business this way? He gains long-term credit by throwing out crazy numbers that vary from team to team. He looks like a genius for attempting to manipulate teams in such an organized way, he shatters reasonable expectations, and teams are at least a little scared of his resources, even if they’d never admit it.

Does this really change anything? The underlying perceptions that guide the team’s negotiator are changed when dealing with Boras versus another agent. He gets better deals, despite the means, than other agents. I’d say so.

In my opinion, Rany Jazayerli summed the situation up well with this breakdown of why Rick Porcello fell in the draft. In short, Jazayerli states that Boras made Porcello slip down in the draft because he understands the game theory implications of the revised draft compensation rules. Rany is a great writer and the theory is a very thought-provoking one, but the perception that Boras is the smartest man in baseball because he gets slightly better deals than other agents is ridiculous.

He does this because he has enough money in the bank that one contract doesn’t matter to him and enough guts to holdout for longer than other agents. Although, with prime talents, a lot of agents would hold out longer than with mid-range guys. Boras is a smart guy, and has (irreparably) changed the draft in some ways, but that doesn’t make him a mad genius teams should fear.

Why are people scared of Scott Boras while simultaneously thinking he’s a genius? Because he is smart enough to 1) know that being perceived as a mad genius is an advantage and 2) make teams think he is that mad genius.

That might actually make him a genius.

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Tags: 2008 MLB Draft · Draft Buzz · News & Notes · Our Opinion

12 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Gems From the Web: 4/7 | baseball blog, funny baseball pictures, funny baseball blog, baseball humor // Apr 7, 2008 at 4:52 pm

    […] Scott Boras‘ guess-and-check strategy is in full force. Man, that guy is a true genius. [Saber Scouting] […]

  • 2 Babe's Ghost // Apr 8, 2008 at 1:56 am

    clearly there’s one easy answer to Boras’ “blackmail”; math. As sabermetrics and other quantitative approaches to projecting player performance improve teams will be better able to balance the risk/reward of signing a Boras client vs. another high quality prospect vs. reaching into the free agent pool or the international market.

    However this assumes that Boras is getting teams to pay more than the free market value for his clients. If he is then eventually teams will be able to deploy said statistical analyses to counterbalance his hype/blackmail. But I think it’s more likely that MLB is acting in concert to depress minor league salaries, much in the same way they depressed major league salaries for years. (In other words, if they went into the FA or international pool to purchase a similar level of performance for the same number of years they would pay significantly more) If this proves to be the case, then Boras is peforming a public service of sorts.

    Any econ majors looking for a good thesis project? You could compare the effectiveness of the anti-competitve practices in the drafts baseball, football and basketball and see whether the benefits accrue primarily to rich or poor teams.

  • 3 Squawking Baseball » Blog Archive » Tuesday Notes: Chris Young, Scott Boras, Brian Sabean // Apr 8, 2008 at 7:50 am

    […] exorbitant as $9.5 million seems for a player with no professional experience, Scott Boras is right to push these limits; […]

  • 4 Jewscott // Apr 10, 2008 at 6:56 pm

    It’s not that hard to see where the Alvarez number comes from. It’s the same amount of money he got Mark Teixeria in 2001.

    The seven million for Hosmer is a bit of a head scratcher, though.

  • 5 Draft Buzz: Rays Narrow List For First Pick « saber-scouting // Apr 11, 2008 at 2:51 am

    […] the quasi-news of the Boras clients’ demands, Saber-Scouting’s coverage of the draft from the rumors and innuendo side of things has now […]

  • 6 Saber-Scouting // Apr 21, 2008 at 4:43 pm

    […] We also reported on Hosmer’s reported price tag, along with Pedro Alvarez’s, in a prior article. It’s great being self-referential. Moving back to the pick at hand, I […]

  • 7 The Complete First Chat | Saber-Scouting // Apr 23, 2008 at 2:32 am

    […] likely to drop in this years draft (such as Porcello last season)? A: (Kiley) As I mentioned in the Boras article the types of players that drop (other than those who do due to performance concerns) are high […]

  • 8 Thoughts on the NFL Draft vs. MLB Draft | Saber-Scouting // Apr 26, 2008 at 10:59 pm

    […] said in an earlier post about Boras client’s asking prices, I mentioned that while MLB and the clubs want to keep bonuses down to be able to spread bonuses to […]

  • 9 Draft Buzz: Late-Rising Prospects | Saber-Scouting // Apr 28, 2008 at 11:29 am

    […] I can only imagine how this will shake up the complexion of the first round if these demands hold. $7 million with a big league deal for a high school hitter? I think most teams would […]

  • 10 Prospect Profile: Pedro Alvarez | Saber-Scouting // May 30, 2008 at 4:27 am

    […] a super-advisor for the draft’s purposes) and we’ve reported at Saber-Scouting that Boras has floated a $9.5 million big league deal asking price, while some insiders have been told the price is as high as $15 […]

  • 11 SaberScouting’s Mock Draft - Draft Week Edition | Saber-Scouting // Jun 4, 2008 at 4:15 am

    […] see this not playing out. Hosmer could slide a long way if he doesn’t go here. We reported on Hosmer’s reported price tag in a prior article. It’s great being […]

  • 12 Posey Requests Moon, Stars, and 2nd Half of SS Mock Draft | Saber-Scouting // Jun 5, 2008 at 4:01 am

    […] He can’t possibly think he’s going to get that number, but as alluded to in the Boras asking price story I wrote early in the draft process, you have to take advice from Public Enemy regarding completely […]

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