Alex Rodriguez now knows what it feels like to be upstaged. Barry Bonds’ indictment drowned out the news reports that A-Rod was about to re-sign with the Yankees. Since A-Rod’s contract status has been the most hotly discussed topic in an otherwise rather tepid hot-stove season, surely the news of his impending nuptials with New York would have garnered more airtime, no?
Maybe not. As Nick was among the first to point out, maybe A-Rod heading back to New York was more of a foregone conclusion than it at first seemed.
As late as Tuesday, media reports were circling that the players’ union, dismayed over the lack of interest in A-Rod, was growing concerned about possible collusion against him by the owners. But this just shows how paranoid the players’ union is. There is only one team in baseball that can afford a 10 year, $275 million deal. Even with some deep pockets at other clubs, no one can match the Yankees in a bidding war.
Alex, we are supposed to believe, was angry at the way Boras mishandled the situation, announcing his client’s free agency during Game 4 of the World Series. Alex, we have been told, was hurt by the backlash against him and wanted to remain a Yankee all along. So Alex, the media reports said, approached the Steinbrenners with his tail between his legs, his agent nowhere to be seen, and asked for forgiveness…and 10 years, 300 million dollars. Boras, for his part, finally met his match.
I’m skeptical. If there is one thing A-Rod has shown so far, it’s that he has little media savvy and, despite his most desperate efforts, no control over his image. And if there’s one thing we know about Scott Boras, it’s that he’s an evil genius who doesn’t care how he makes his millions. If Scott Boras had the choice between a hypothetical 8 year, $200 million deal from, say, the Dodgers and a 10 year, $275 million deal with the Yankees, and the only thing he had to do to get his percentage of the extra $75 mill was fabricate a little bad blood between his client, the most disdained player in baseball, and himself, the most despised agent in baseball, do you think he’d even hesitate? Besides, the I’m-mad-at-my-agent-let’s-just-talk-without-him schtick is a tactic the two have used before. And in the past, he’s described his job as to “create the theater of who the player is.”
Did Boras miscalculate when he leaked the news of his client’s free agency during the World Series? Undoubtedly. Was Boras mistaken in the market out for A-Rod? Almost certainly. When push came to shove, the only team to even make Rodriguez a formal offer was…the Toledo Mud Hens. But did Boras cost his client money? I don’t think so. Even with the money they were getting from the Rangers, the contract extension the Yankees were preparing for A-Rod came to 8 years, $230 million. At the worst, Boras hurt his client’s reputation (which his machinations, as described above, have now already started to repair). Even if A-Rod hadn’t opted out, the Yankees probably would have been willing to give A-Rod another couple of years and a few more tens of millions of dollars. So at worst, from A-Rod’s perspective, the past three weeks have all been a pointless sideshow. And at best, this pointless and probably painful sideshow has netted him some extra millions. While the Yankees probably would have gone up to $275 million even without the opt-out drama, that extra bit of leverage is, in my view, what allowed Boras to squeeze out an extra $25 million in performance bonuses. That brings the total potential value of the contract to the nice, round number of $300 million dollars. Which, of course, is just what Boras originally set out to get. Beyond the A-Rod/Yankees drama, there’s another winner here: the Texas Rangers, who are finally free of the albatross of the $252 million deal they signed with A-Rod all those years ago. What might they do with their extra $21.3 million? Might they sign a free-agent pitcher? Might that be Kenny Rogers, who just happens to be another Boras client? It wouldn’t be the first time Boras has been accused of orchestrating events to suit multiple clients at the same time.
Boras might look like the loser of this contest in this news cycle, but make no mistake: long term, he has won. Again. In the world of Scott Boras, everything has a price. And to get his client the 10 year, $300 million dollar deal he wanted, all Boras had to do was kick some dirt on his own reputation. That’s a trade you have to make.