It’s three days into spring training, with full squads reporting in five days — does Scott Boras know where his free agents’ teams are? Baseball’s Avenging Agent is accustomed to playing the waiting game, even into March, and when it comes to getting the richest contracts for his clients, almost always succeeding. But this winter has proven to be quite challenging for Boras, with the new army of front office analytics folk having apparently finally convinced their boss GMs the folly of paying for past performance, along with the (so far) absence of any candidates for “One Dumb Owner.” In regard to the latter, a club exec recently cracked to me: “(Former Texas owner) Tom Hicks went bankrupt after signing A-Rod to that ridiculous $252 million deal (in 2000), the Lerners in Washington are tapped out, and (former Tigers owner) Mike Ilitch is dead. It could be Boras has run out of patsies.” We’ll see. It was certainly not surprising last week to see that Boras was already going directly to Arizona managing general partner Ken Kendrick in an effort to get the Diamondbacks’ offer for J.D. Martinez above and beyond the Red Sox’ reported offer of five years/$110 million, and doing the same with Padres co-owner Ron Fowler in hopes of getting them to go an eighth year for Eric Hosmer. Boras undoubtedly had to be heartened this week when the Cubs broke the ice on the high-end free-agent pitchers market by signing Yu Darvish for six-years/$126 million. But even though it was far below the money Darvish was said to be originally seeking, the six years raised eyebrows throughout baseball. Yankee people told me that, much as they liked Darvish, even if they weren’t handcuffed by the $197 million luxury tax, there’s no way they would’ve gone out six years for a 31-year-old pitcher. “Discount” or not, committing $21 million a year to a pitcher at 34-37 years old is still a terrible contract. But apparently Cubs President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein didn’t get the memo from his analytics department. Still, Boras should probably not count on the Darvish contract being a sign that there are owners out there now ready to bid up his 31-year-old high-end pitcher, Jake Arrieta. Early on, Boras was said to be seeking a deal for Arrieta comparable to the seven years/$210 million he got for Max Scherzer in 2015. But Scherzer was coming off two straight seasons in which he led the AL in victories and logged over 210 innings. Arrieta, by contrast, is coming off two consecutive seasons in which his innings have decreased from 229 to 197 1/3 and 168 1/3 and has famously been reported to have lost 2 mph off his fastball. His 2015 Cy Young pedigree notwithstanding, teams are very wary of Arrieta. One GM told me this week he’d be surprised if Arrieta were able to land even a four-year contract, much less five, six or seven.
Scott Boras remains patient, but he and his free agents are really testing the limit
New York Daily News | Feb 16