Posts Tagged ‘Scott Boras’


Bowden Discussing Nationals’ Strasburg Strategy

May 1, 2009

I’m sure those of you who followed Jim Bowden’s incompetent reign as GM of the Nationals and his firing this winter for a combination of inept management and possible corruption won’t see this much of a surprise, but I was dumbstruck when I saw this post on Jim Callis’ blog at Baseball America.

In an on-air appearance on LA radio, Bowden says that the Nationals have already decided on drafting Stephen Strasburg, the San Diego State pitcher is already considered the near unanimous choice for the first pick in this year’s draft. His incredible performance (fastball at 98-99, over a strikeout an inning, ERA way under 1.00) have scouts drooling, and with Scott Boras as his agent, the bonus demands are sure to be high. He will probably shatter the record for a draft signing bonus based on the combination of hype, performance, polish, and the lack of talent following him in a weak draft class.

Bowden is making the situation much worse for the Nats by telling the public that the team is dead-set on getting Strasburg. His comments:

“That is who they are going to take . . . This is the best amateur pitcher since I was born. He is that good–his delivery, his stuff, 100 miles an hour in the eighth inning, his makeup. He’s got the entire package . . . Strasburg is going to be drafted by Washington. You think they are going to sign him early? No, it’s going to be Aug. 15 at 11:57 p.m. It will end at around $15 million, about under $35 million of what Scott wants, but that is where it ends up. It will be record-breaking, and he will be pitching in the big leagues in September. He is that good.”

This has to violate some kind of non-disclosure agreement. Bowden is undermining the Nationals’ bargaining position by 1) establishing Strasburg as the clear choice of the Nationals and 2) telling the expected terms of the signing. This kind of stuff is going to be used by Boras against the Nationals in negotiations. Boras will be able to use what would have been the Nationals’ final offer as his initial barganing position. Even if Bowden is not violating some prior agreement not to divulge internal details from the Nationals’ baseball operations department, this is a serious breach of professional ettiquette. How could another owner ever hire Bowden to be a GM or special assistant to the GM if this is the way he acts on the way out the door?

If I were the Lerner family, I’d be assembling a group of lawyers to sue Bowden immediately.


Varitek and Boras

January 26, 2009

After leaving him (fairly deservedly) out in the cold for months, the Red Sox have decided to make Jason Varitek an unconventional offer. The deal, as reported by Tony Massarotti of the Boston Globe, would pay Varitek one year at five million, with two 2010 options: a club option at five million, and a player option at three.

The idea here is probably to gradually reduce Varitek’s playing time. Peter Gammons mentioned this weekend that only six catchers have ever caught over 100 games at age 37, and the Red Sox are not the kind of team to try to make Varitek number seven. If Varitek is OK with a reduced role, he can come back with the player option. If Varitek defies his clear aging trend and decline in performance, then the Red Sox can bring him back. 

The offer smells like a sympathy/public relations move. While the Red Sox did not have terribly compelling catching options in-house between Josh Bard and George Kottaras, those two did have the virtue of being cheap. Varitek, even if he plays 2009 like the average of 2006-2008 seasons, does not figure to perform far above the level of Bard, and a return to form would be blindly optimistic.

It’s not as if Varitek has other options. Since he and Scott Boras stupidly turned down salary arbitration (which likely would have netted Varitek at least $10 million), no team has been willing to take a look at Varitek, for fear of losing their first-round draft pick as compensation. Knowing that teams were unwilling to pay for Varitek at any price, the Red Sox had no need to give Varitek more than it would take to prevent him from retiring or sitting out the season. Theo Epstein and Co. may have judged five million dollars to be a sum that will bring Varitek back and shields them from being called stingy in the media if Varitek were to refuse, but Epstein has not appeared to care much about media opinion in the past.

Boras (and Varitek) badly misread the market here. In 2004, when  Varitek posted an .872 OPS and was the toast of baseball for managing Boston’s top-flight stable of pitchers to their “curse-breaking” world championship, they had most of  the leverage. Now, after three seasons of poor play and a poor gamble, the Red Sox have all the leverage. The Sox’ deal apparently has a deadline. It would behoove Mr. Boras and Mr. Varitek to swallow their collective pride and accept before the deadline passes.


2010 free agent overload?

January 15, 2009

Joel Sherman said on XM’s Home Plate station this morning that there remain over 100 free agents without jobs. If a large number of these players end up going into February without deals, is it possible that most of the remainder get 1-year contracts? Players may want to hold out rather than sign a depressed-value multi-year contract, with the hope that the economy will recover and they can earn more per year in a deal starting in 2010. Could we see a huge number of FAs in 2010 if this signing pattern occurred?

Right now, the big ticket players expected to be on the market in 2010 look to be John Lackey, Matt Holliday, and Jason Bay. Lackey and Bay are negotiating extensions now, and are expected to work out deals with their current teams (Angels and Red Sox). If the economy stays the same or only gets marginally better, Matt Holliday could be in trouble. With the Red Sox out of the market (full outfield with Bay, Ellsbury, and Drew), Holliday and Boras will have a hard time driving up Holliday’s price if the current crop of all-hit, no-field outfielders (Dunn, Abreu, perhaps even Manny) end up trying their luck again on the market. Holliday is probably a more valuable player than these other options, but cheap alternatives will likely prevent teams from paying huge premiums for marginal improvement and increased risk from a multi-year contract.