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
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 AL in wins, ERA and games started in a
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 Pittsburgh, outfielders Jason Bay and
Xavier Nady, traded to AL East rivals Boston and the Yankees.
Four of these ten currently employ
super-agent Scott Boras. On the surface, that quantity being Boras clients may not seem
all that unusual. Yet, let’s look a little more deeply, as contracts and
impending free agency seem to have a direct impact on at least three of the
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
|Ken Griffey, Jr.
||Riverfront Sports Mgmt.
||Scott Boras Corp.
||Scott Boras Corp.
||Legacy Sports Group
||Scott Boras Corp.
||RMG Sports Mgmt.
||Scott Boras Corp.
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,
Boras had a
Note that in the referenced
does provide one example of a player that agreed to terms on a multi-year deal
that bought up one year of free agency in advance. That is Tampa Bay’s Carlos Pena, a former top
prospect-turned-fringe major league journeyman for parts of six seasons before
finally experiencing a breakout year in 2007. Think Ryan Ludwick in 2008.
Boras had to dial the way-back machine
all the way to 2002 to be able to cite another such abnormality, Jeff Weaver,
then with Detroit. Again, all except one of the four
years of that contract simply covered arbitration-eligible seasons, with only
the final one a possible free-agent year.
On the other hand, how many dozens
charges have ventured into the free agent market since the days when Weaver was
actually an effective and promising major league pitcher?
We see from the table that
three of the top five upcoming free agents just traded, Ramirez, Rodriguez and
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
This is hardly a news flash, but
it may help explain why so many Boras clients changed addresses this month.
Generally speaking, when existing clubs know they are not going to re-sign a
player, some decide to get something more in return for losing him than just a
draft pick or two.
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,
selling a two or three-year deal would not be out of the
What a difference 12 months make.
Last year at this time, the Atlanta Braves were buyers, acquiring first baseman
Mark Teixeira from Texas for a boatload of
Having recently lost two
clients in outfielders J.D. Drew and Andruw Jones, this time the Braves decided
to throw in the towel on their disappointing 2008 season and deal Teixeira to
the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
What has changed in addition to
not being in contention this season is that Atlanta must have wanted more for Teixeira than
a couple of compensatory draft picks. Depending on who you listen to, the Braves
are either cheapskates, quick learners, good businessmen or some combination
FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports
that Boras is
floating the idea of a ten-year contract for Teixeira. Now 28 years of age and
coming into the statistical prime of his career, Tex may not get A-Rod money,
but his eventual haul may not be all that far from it, either.
After all, Boras and Teixeira have
broken new ground before. After the first baseman was drafted by Texas in 2001, Boras worked over the Rangers for a signing
bonus of $4.5 million with an overall guarantee of $9.5 million plus a major
league contract to boot. That deal set a new standard for all the Rick Porcellos
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 Atlanta, Jones
re-negotiated a below-market extension prior to the 2006 season that actually
reduced his yearly salary in return for more years. Can you imagine a Boras client doing that?
No, neither Chipper nor Smoltz employ Boras.
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, Atlanta.)
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, Boras gets the agent’s cut.
(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 Milwaukee for the winter, plus the following
six years or so.)
Now, I am not suggesting that
Manny acted up in Boston to get out of his options and secure an
even bigger and longer new contract. Yet the first step worked out just fine,
because as part of the trade, the Dodgers agreed to waive their right to
exercise those two option years, according to SI.com.
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
looks like Boras
is angling for one last bonanza for his man-child. Rumors place Manny’s opening
bid at $100 million for a new four-year contract this upcoming winter that would
carry the slugger though his age-40 season.
The good news is that the Dodgers
are used to this drill, having been on both ends recently. They were dumped by
Drew two years into a five-year deal, thanks to a unique opt-out clause
negotiated by his agent and they took the hook on two years to the tune of $36.2
million for the shell of Andruw Jones last winter.
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
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