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Don't Boras With The Truth!

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Mark J. Rebilas-US PRESSWIRE

As the A's, as in Billy Beane, and Stephen Drew, as in agent Scott Boras, continue to talk about a possible contract, skeptical A's fans caution that there's no way a small market team is going to land a Boras client -- since Boras always goes for the biggest money, and always gets it.

Except that's not actually quite true. It's true that Boras is awfully good at what he does (heck, my school wound up doubling my salary this year just to avoid losing me to a "mystery school"), and it's also true that what his clients usually want him to do is to get them the richest contract possible. There's some self-selection involved right off the top: If you're an athlete whose first three concerns are "the money, the money, and the money," then you're probably going to seek out Boras to be your agent.

However, there are other considerations that athletes sometimes have, from "playing for a team with a chance to win now," to "playing for a manager I like and respect," to "being close to family/home," and so on. There are agents who will ignore their clients' wishes either by pressuring their clients to take the most money or by acting overly autonomous -- the latter appears to have happened to Jonny Gomes just before he fired his agency ("ACES," also known for representing Melky Cabrera, and what a fine job they did there).

Boras may not, through self-selection, get a lot of clientele who don't "just want the most money possible, period," but when he does he insists that he is "client-centered" -- that if his client wants to play in a certain city or region, or on a team with a certain fan base or commitment to winning, he will try to get his client the best possible deal that meets those criteria. (Note: There was an article in which Boras repeated this claim and even cited at least one specific example, but I have not been able to find it in a search -- perhaps someone else can?)

Now is that actually true, or is this claim as real as a "mystery team"? The case of Jered Weaver would suggest maybe Boras is engaging in double-speak, as Weaver acted against Boras' advice in signing his 5-year extension with the Angels.

However, I imagine that as usual the truth is somewhere in between: That Boras doesn't get a lot of clients who want anything other than "the most money possible," but that when he does he is open to balancing "best possible offer" with the client's "best interests" -- as seen by the client.

He will probably advise Drew to go for the best money possible, partly because he knows Drew -- because he is a SS approaching 30, and because he is still coming back from a significant injury -- is a risk not to get another good offer in his career. But he will probably also be mindful of any other considerations that might be important to Drew; for A's fans wanting him re-signed those might include the team's chances of making the post-season and the manager he plays for.

One final thought about Boras: It hasn't all been smooth sailing for the "super-agent". Those who have "separated" from him (we don't say "fired" in this line of work, apparently) include Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, and Carlos Beltran. Not exactly the group of players you would expect to be unhappy with their contracts, so not sure exactly why each made that decision. (This article about Rodriguez' decision and this one about Teixeira's decision don't really shed much light, other than to suggest that along with being a pain to GMs and a whipping boy for fans, Boras may not be popular with all his clients.)

Can Beane sign a Boras client? Could he sign one without overpaying? Without making the best offer on the market? The guesses I'd hazard are probably "yes, yes, and no." The stadium and attendance are still obstacles, but the team's outlook has swung from a negative to a positive, and the manager has swung from a kiss-of-death to a big positive. And the A's do have some payroll flexibility right now. And Boras clients are usually "all about the money". But not always.