Over the last few weeks as the non-waiver trade deadline loomed, several dozen major leaguers and prospects joined new organizations via what may have been an unprecedented level of high-profile deals.
The top ten players to have changed addresses include:
The top active home run hitter in Ken Griffey, Jr. and number five in Manny Ramirez. Between the two, we're talking over 1100 career long balls. And how about a former MVP catcher with 13 Gold Gloves and seven Silver Slugger Awards in Ivan Rodriguez?
We have the reigning Cy Young
Award winner in the American League in C.C. Sabathia and the starter with the
best strikeout ratio in baseball in 2008 in Rich Harden. Not stopping there, the
A's also sent packing Joe Blanton, who in his short career has ranked in the top
ten in the
How about the second switch-hitter
in history to log four straight seasons of at least 30 home runs, 100 RBIs and a
.500 slugging percentage in Mark Teixeira? Going the other way was a promising
first baseman, former first-rounder Casey Kotchman. Then we have the primary
beneficiaries of the annual fire sale in
Four of these ten currently employ
super-agent Scott Boras. On the surface, that quantity being
The table below separates the top ten traded players into two groups – the ones who will be free agents after this season and the ones who will not.
|Free Agents to be||From||To||Agent||FA Year|
|Ken Griffey, Jr.||Cin||CWS||Riverfront Sports Mgmt.||2008-09|
|Manny Ramirez||Bos||LAD||Scott Boras Corp.||2008-09|
|Ivan Rodriguez||Det||NYY||Scott Boras Corp.||2008-09|
|C.C. Sabathia||Cle||Mil||Legacy Sports Group||2008-09|
|Mark Teixeira||Atl||LAA||Scott Boras Corp.||2008-09|
|Free Agents later|
|Jason Bay||Pit||Bos||Octagon Baseball||2009-10|
|Rich Harden||Oak||ChC||RMG Sports Mgmt.||2009-10|
|Xavier Nady||Pit||NYY||Scott Boras Corp.||2009-10|
I will not delve into the free
agents in future years other than to note that the Pittsburgh press
confirmed that the Pirates went ahead and dealt Xavier Nady a year early
since they figured he'd be leaving after next season, anyway. Of course,
Note that in the referenced
On the other hand, how many dozens
Impending free agents
We see from the table that
Readers of my recent articles on St. Louis Cardinals impending free agent pitcher Kyle Lohse (free) and 2009-10 free agent to-be Rick Ankiel (subscriber-only) are already familiar with the tried-and-true Boras way - test the free agent market and in almost every case, join a new club via a multi-year deal.
This is hardly a news flash, but
it may help explain why so many
Ivan Rodriguez may be the least interesting of the group. At 36 years of age and having caught over 2100 major league games, Pudge is nearing the end of the line. Two years ago, when last a free agent, there seemed few teams interested in him.
Still, I-Rod is a great fit for
the Yankees, having lost Jorge Posada for the remainder of the season due to
injury. Rodriguez' future deal will surely be modest compared to the other two,
What a difference 12 months make.
Last year at this time, the Atlanta Braves were buyers, acquiring first baseman
Mark Teixeira from
Having recently lost two
What has changed in addition to
not being in contention this season is that
FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal reports
Ranked tenth in season-opening payroll at $102 million, just ahead of the Cardinals in fact, the Braves have seen their dynasty erode in recent years. One reason is their inability to keep more than a pair of core players at home in John Smoltz and Chipper Jones.
Just to remain with
Other Boras clients departing Atlanta in recent years over money include Greg Maddux, Steve Avery and Jeff Blauser, along with Drew and Andruw Jones.
(As an aside, I give Braves GM
Frank Wren high marks for picking up an emerging star in Kotchman to replace
Teixeira. Though the Braves may have to endure the threat of three more years of
arbitration, they picked up a good, young player that can remain under team
control for 3 ½ more seasons. Nice move,
Manny Ramirez may take a lot of heat for being goofy and indifferent toward the game, but he is far from stupid. He has been playing under an eight-year contract that will pay him $160 million. In addition, the Red Sox held two one-year options for 2009 and 2010 that would have enabled them to keep Manny around for another $20 million per season.
One might quibble here regarding the circumstances of this trade, as it is widely understood that this deal was not about the agent or the money. Or was it?
While Ramirez' current representative is Scott Boras, he is a relatively new arrival on the Planet Manny. Ramirez' agent when his existing contract was signed was Jeff Moorad, now General Partner and CEO of the Arizona Diamondbacks. When Moorad changed hats, two other agents from his old Legacy Sports Group, Scott Parker and Greg Genske, assumed the handling of Manny - until the outfielder fired them and employed Boras, that is.
So what, you ask? Well, here's the
rub. If Manny's team options had been exercised, Parker and Genske would have
received the commission. However, when Manny signs a new deal,
(Don't shed any tears for the
jilted boys at Legacy, as they stand to make large amounts of money this winter
when C.C. Sabathia leaves
Now, I am not suggesting that
Manny acted up in
And as a ten-and-five man, ten years as a major leaguer and the last five with the same team, Man-Ram held absolute veto power over where he was dealt. It would seem if the terms of a proposed trade were not to his liking, he might have used his right to either get what he wanted or scuttle the deal.
Agents aside, nullifying the
options does make some sense. After all, Ramirez is now 36 years of age, and it
The good news is that the Dodgers
are used to this drill, having been on both ends recently. They were dumped by
The conclusion? Again, those who don't believe that the mere presence of Scott Boras either directly or indirectly alters team decisions on player trades and acquisitions are only fooling themselves.
Anyone watching the 2007 World Series and specifically A-Rod's role in it, despite not being on either team playing, already know all about it. These 2008 deadline deals only reinforce the point.
Brian Walton can be reached via email at email@example.com.
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