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Lots of Scott Boras talk lately (not just on our site), both in the mainstream and around the blogosphere. The New Yorker has a huge profile this week, and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution also ran a story about him today. J.C. Bradbury at Sabernomics had this to say:

I’d love to do a study on this, but data on who represents whom in sports is too annoying for me to aggregate. But, after thinking about this, I suspect that Boras gets so much flack simply because he represents the top players in the game. Of course, his clients are going to get big salaries. His negotiation tactics are often reported to be shrewd, but what negotiation isn’t contentious? When I read about negotiations involving other agents, teams are often bitter with the other side.

I think the real difference with Boras is that he has built up a reputation that allows the best to be drawn to him. And he doesn’t seem to hide from the press. In fact, his best talent may not be negotiation, but in convincing players to hire him. And if I’m a player who has no idea what my talents will bring, having a familiar name with a reputation for snagging big contracts is going to be a big comfort.

I disagree. I wish I had data to back me on this (J.C. is right on one thing, this is very difficult to track), but the anecdotal evidence is pretty overwhelming.

Example: the slot estimate for the first pick in this year’s draft was $3.6 million, and $3.15 million for the second pick. Boras had five clients that were picked in the first round (which we’ll define as the first thirty picks, not including the sandwich round):

  • Mike Moustakas, second overall to Kansas City, $4 million bonus
  • Matt Wieters, fifth overall to Baltimore, $6 million bonus
  • Matt LaPorta, seventh overall to Milwaukee, 2.07 million.
  • Rick Porcello, twenty-seventh overall to Detroit, $3.58 million
  • Andrew Brackman, thirtieth overall to the Yankees, $3.3 million

So let’s consider. LaPorta came in $70,000 below his slot estimate, simply because he was a college senior and had virtually no leverage. Everyone else crushed theirs. And yes, he had some of the top players in the draft, but consider that all four of his non-LaPorta picks got more money than the slot estimate for the second pick. Wieters receieved the largest up-front bonus in the history of the draft, despite being picked fifth. Porcello and Brackman were both picked at the end of the first round, but still got the third and fourth highest bonuses in the draft, behind only Wieters and first overall pick David Price.

Here’s what you really need to know, though: Boras clients pulled in bonuses 97% higher than their slots. The other twenty-five first round picks came in seven percent above theirs. The supposed inflation in draft bonuses this year was almost entirely due to Scott Boras.

And how about the strategy that he used to pull this off? If you haven’t read about this yet, you’re missing out.

This is just one example. I don’t have the time to write about all the other ones. If somebody can find a list of Boras clients over the years, I’ll do the necessary research. But taking the time compile the list just doesn’t appeal to me when I’m so certain of what I’m going to find.

I will add this though: I don’t believe he’s changed the entire cost structure of the sport, like some people have suggested. Take this year’s draft as an example. His clients made out like bandits, and that had a tremendous impact on the common perception of the entire draft. But really, the other twenty-five first round picks barely beat their slot estimates.

I think if we were to do a large-scale study on how his clients have done in free agency, we would likely see similar results. It is almost as if teams have conceded that they can’t outsmart Boras in negotiations. So when one of his clients signs somewhere, everyone else simply assumes that the deal is overpriced, and other agents just aren’t talented enough to take full advantage.

Long story short, if you are a baseball player and Scott Boras is not your agent, you are flushing money down the toilet. And not just a little bit of money, either.

Feedback? Write a comment, or e-mail the author at shawn(AT)squawkingbaseball.com

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  1. on October 22nd at 11:57 pm
    chicken parm said:

    i wonder if arod can afford to eat the best chicken parm in new york

  2. on October 23rd at 03:10 am
    squawkingbaseball said:

    EDITOR’S NOTE: The best chicken parm in New York can be found at Frankie and Johnny’s, located in Hurleyville. From what we can tell, based on published reports, it is A-Rod’s favorite place in Hurleyville.

  3. […] possible, but not likely. Boras has proven again and again that he is a fantastic businessman, and is almost always well ahead of the curve. And while those […]