If there’s one thing Scott Boras is known for, it’s being one of the best in the business when it comes to squeezing the most possible money out of MLB owners for his clients. And if there’s a second thing he’s known for, it’s a bottomless well of -isms that uses when speaking publicly.
After Kris Bryant was assigned to the minors to open the 2015 season, we we were told that the decision was the “apogee of wrongs” and that the Cubs were engaging in “ersatz baseball.” Things seem to have worked out pretty well for both sides, but you can bet Boras won’t be advising Bryant to take a hometown discount on an early extension.
In order to move to Playoffville, you have to pay the property tax.
That’s a topic we’ll discuss even more in the future, but the new saying Boras dropped while holding court before assembled media at the GM Meetings is a real doozy that needs to be appreciated immediately.
“This is not about an inability to pay, it’s about a choice not to pay,” the super-agent explained while lamenting the number of teams reportedly aiming to cut payroll. “They’re not living in the gated community of Playoffville. In order to move to Playoffville, you have to pay the property tax.”
I’m just gonna let that breathe for a bit.
Boras went on to say that, despite reports that he’s set the opening bidding for J.D. Martinez at $210 million, he has yet to discuss specific financial terms with any teams. He also reiterated the analogy that Jake Arrieta is “a big squirrel with a lot of nuts in his tree,” which is something we heard from him earlier this month as well.
Lest you think these are the mad ravings of a lunatic, you need to understand that bombast and showmanship are two of Boras’s biggest weapons. He knows damn well that members of the media absolutely lap this stuff up and will immediately turn to social media and their various publications to share them.
Quotes like these are what Twitter was made for, and their rapid dissemination by and to the baseball cognoscenti creates a public shaming of MLB execs who aren’t willing to pony up for Boras’s players. He’s lobbing the first volley in the battle of public opinion, painting ownership as the greedy bourgeoisie and the players as the lowly proletariat.
Once he’d gotten worked up about the nature of the market in general, the world’s most famous agent got after the Cubs in particular for their stated desire to be somewhat conservative this winter.
“This isn’t the Windy City,” Boras said, per Gordon Wittenmyer. “This is the economic hurricane of Chicago, what the Cubs have done. The Cubs can do whatever they want in this free agent market and next year’s.”
The Cubs can do whatever they want in this free agent market and next year’s.
Taken in concert with the stuff about Arrieta’s nuts, it’s pretty easy to see how Boras is trying to pump up what projects to be a pretty deflated market for the marquee starter. While Yu Darvish is projected to get somewhere in the neighborhood of $150-160 million over six years, estimates for Arrieta — who’s only five months Darvish’s senior — have generally hovered around $100 million for four years.
In Darvish, we’re talking about a guy who had only rented an Airbnb in Playoffville for brief stays in 2012 and ’16 prior to leasing a place this past season. Arrieta’s had a place downtown for the last three seasons and is a known a great neighbor who even offered to help people pack when they moved last year. So you can imagine why the disparity in salary projections might worry the man tasked with making sure Arrieta is paid on par with his peers.
While it might seem on the surface that Boras is somehow goading the Cubs, I think it’s actually more about warning other teams of their clout. Whether real or imagined, one team’s desire and ability to afford a coveted free agent could generate more competition and drive up the asking price.
If Arrieta is indeed going to settle for something at the lowest end of the nine-figure realm, the Cubs could very well be players. In the end, though, I believe that he’s going to get more than that from another team hoping to use his referral to secure the blessing of Playoffville’s notoriously strict homeowner’s association.
But until such time as Arrieta, Martinez, and others are signed, we can expect to hear plenty more of Boras’s bloviations on the business of baseball.