Considering how quiet the free agent market has been this winter, pretty much every signing has been newsworthy to some extent. It’s no wonder then that when the Chicago Cubs reached a six-year, $126 million with Yu Darvish on Saturday, the baseball world went crazy.
Darvish’s signing marks the first major free agent signing in several weeks. He was one of the core four major free agents to not have a deal, along with J.D. Martinez, Jake Arrieta and Eric Hosmer. But now that he’s signed maybe we’ll start to see those big names come off the board.
That maybe is a pretty big maybe though. That’s because with Darvish off the board, the free agent market will center almost exclusively around one already powerful person. That being baseball super agent Scott Boras.
Boras is the agent for the aforementioned Martinez, Arrieta and Hosmer. He’s also the agent for Mike Moustakas and Greg Holland and several other big name free agents who are still on the board. For all intents and purposes, Boras now controls the market, meaning he’s about to enter a standoff with the owners that could shape the future of MLB.
It’s no coincidence that Boras clients are dominating the list of notable free agents still available. He’s never been one to bend, let alone break, when it comes to getting his clients the deals he feels they’ve earned.
If it means waiting out the market until spring training, Boras will do it. That patience — or stubbornness, if you prefer — usually pays off. This year, however, it’s looking more and more like Boras’ resolve will be tested like never before. That, in turn, puts his clients and the game itself in an interesting predicament.
One thing is for sure. Players are getting frustrated with the slow-moving market. That even includes players like the Dodgers Kenley Jansen, who already has a big deal locked up. Right now, the anger is aimed at the owners. There’s talk of collusion among the owners. There’s talk of teams preferring to tank and rebuild rather than spend on this crop of free agents. A lot of that has been fueled by Boras himself.
Could that anger shift now that Boras will be more in the spotlight than ever? It’s possible. As John Harper of the New York Daily News wrote two weeks ago, many scouts and executives point to Boras’ refusal to bend on his demands as the primary reason behind the stalemate that’s developed. If it becomes clear that Boras’ demands are beyond the realm of reason, or that he’s not willing to budge from them, maybe he’ll have more fingers point in his direction before all is said and done.
It’s an interesting thought that may or may not have any merit. It’s also entirely possible that Boras ultimately gets his way anyway, alleviating much of the angst that currently exists. But what if he doesn’t? Yu Darvish to the Chicago Cubs is a big deal on its own. But the showdown that could stem from it could be the most fascinating portion of an already contentious offseason.
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