Is it a big gathering of execs and/or players? Then you can be certain super-agent Scott Boras will be there saying the range of things he always says, from utterly absurd puns to oh-hey-actually-that’s-really-interesting thoughts.
So it is at this week’s GM Meetings, where Boras got into a range of topics with reporters, many of interest to us … and many that make you question what we’ve done wrong as a species:
Scott Boras on Nicholas Castellanos: “Ol’ St. Nick delivers once a year. Young St. Nick delivers all season.”
— Vinnie Duber (@VinnieDuber) November 13, 2019
OK, as for the interesting stuff. Boras got into Kris Bryant a bit, noting that his client is of course open to an extension with the Cubs, but it’s gonna have to be market rate:
Scott Boras said he is open to discussions on an extension for Kris Bryant . “ We have always said to them that has always been Kris’s philosophy with the team.” Boras said Bryant would expect fair market value in any deal agreed to.
— Bruce Levine (@MLBBruceLevine) November 14, 2019
With the market rate on players like Bryant pushing upwards of $30+ million per year for 7 or more years, it is very difficult to see Bryant signing for less than 7/$210 million, even a couple years away from free agency. But there were rumors that a $200 million extension was rejected last year, and since then, Nolan Arenado signed for eight years and $260 million (one year before free agency) with an opt-out after the third year. If that’s the benchmark against which Boras and Bryant would push as “market value,” then I have a very hard time seeing the Cubs going to that level right now. (We talked last year about how the Arenado contract complicates things for the Cubs.)
The difficult decision now for the Cubs, of course, is whether to capture value for Bryant in trade, or risk just riding him out for two more years and letting him walk away. Boras acknowledges that’s a difficult choice for teams in this situation, but he points out, this kind of trade for a superstar from a large market club … it’s really rare (670 The Score): “Any player who is really, really good and has a couple of years to go or one year to go or two years to go, these discussions always come up. They happen when they are not under contract for a long period of time. All that tells me is Kris Bryant is really, really good. Every player I have had of that talent level, they have always asked me will they or won’t they do it (trade him)? The answer always is over a decade, how many get traded? The answer is very low. To get something back worthwhile, the percentages are very low.”
Of course, the specter of the Bryant grievance, which will be the difference between one or two more years of team control remaining, looms over all of this – both trade talks and extension talks – so there’s not much firm we can get to until that’s decided in the next few weeks (hopefully).
Meanwhile, Boras dropped this very notable general point:
Boras on top FAs: "I think all of them have the possibility of signing much earlier because the clubs are wanting meetings and they’re wanting to get in front of the players and they’re all telling me they want to make much earlier decisions. I did not hear any of that last year.
— Gordon Wittenmyer (@GDubCub) November 14, 2019
Keep in mind: Boras’s incentive here is to fight back against the trend of teams stalling and stalling and stalling in free agency to drive down prices after the flip of the calendar. So if he’s saying teams are talking earlier? Then it’s legit and it’s happening.
Why? Goodness of the teams’ hearts? Eh. I tend to think it’s more about teams hoping they can use the last two years of slowness as leverage against guys waiting things out. “Hey, let’s talk now so that you don’t become the next Dallas Keuchel …. ”
We’ll see if it actually translates into contracts. In a normal, pre-2018 offseason, we’d see specific free agent rumors really heat up after the qualifying offer deadline passes today, and we’d seen a steady trickle of signings from now until just before Thanksgiving. Then we’d see a slowing again until the non-tender deadline on December 2, and then a very rapid acceleration of deals up to and through the Winter Meetings, with only a handful of free agents left to be signed in January and February.