Is this the year Scott Boras fails to pull a rabbit out of a hat? Or three or four rabbits, to be precise? Yes, January has come and gone and, remarkably, baseball’s big free-agent freeze hasn’t even begun to melt. Spring training begins in less than two weeks and you can still field something of an All-Star team out of the dozens of players looking for a job. Other than the spring of 1995, when baseball was coming back from its infamous strike that shut down offseason business as well, we’ve never seen anything like this, with so many high-profile players still available. And the frustration is becoming more evident, with Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen recently going so far as to say the players might have to strike again at some point if this is the way it’s going to be, with owners running their own squeeze play. Of course, you can make the case that this is really more about a new era of analytically-driven GMs simply recognizing the perils of long-term contracts and trying to drive down prices by waiting out the players. Can’t ignore the tanking issue, either, as several teams apparently have no interest in spending as they follow the formula the Cubs and Astros used to build championship teams. And then there is the Boras factor. Baseball’s most notorious agent is calling the shots for some of the still-available star-level free agents this winter, including J.D. Martinez, Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Jake Arrieta, and Greg Holland. Talking to scouts and executives on Wednesday, I heard Boras’ name a lot, as some are convinced his refusal to bend on his demands has created a stalemate for his top-of-the-market guys that has a trickle-down effect on other free agents. “This is his M.O., waiting until he gets his price,” said a team executive, “and usually he finds a taker, but he’s never had this many guys unsigned so late. I’ve been wrong before predicting that he wouldn’t get the contract he wanted, but this time I really think he’s going to have to make concessions on some of his guys.” The same executive made the point that Boras has often managed to swing deals late in the offseason by going directly to ownership, particularly with the Tigers and the Nationals. But Detroit owner Mike Ilitch died last year at age 87, and in Washington Ted Lerner reportedly has no intention of adding any more big salaries.
Scott Boras continues to hold up the MLB free-agent market, but will he blink first?
New York Daily News | Feb 1