You don't normally see Scott Boras hailed as a savior of baseball--usually, the Newport Beach super-sports agent is referred to as the complete opposite.
But with the Nationals becoming the first Washington, D.C., team since 1933 making it to the playoffs, some in the nation's capital are crediting Boras for at least part of the team's success.
Take Washington Post reporter Rick Maese--please! He writes of Boras and the Nats thriving together, and when you read some hosanas players, management and ownerships heap on one of Major League Baseball's most-loathed figures--the embodiment of all that's wrong with baseball from the cheap seats to the private suites--it's as if holy rollers are feting Satan as their Man of the Year.
A choice Maese cut:
As the postseason begins, the team with at least a share of baseball's best record has Boras's fingerprints all over it. He represents five players on the Nationals' expected 25-man playoff roster, including [Bryce] Harper, outfielder Jayson Werth and second baseman Danny Espinosa.
It's Boras' five seasons in the Cardinals' and Cubs' organizations in the 1970s that both Nationals' players and front office people who also toiled in the minors cite as making the agent stand out from others. He can relate to them as something of a peer, or at least former peer.
Where these two groups, players and management, part with the warm fuzzies is when it comes to Boras' personality. Players describe him as more friendly than they'd been led to believe. Those in Washington who have sat across Boras at a negotiating table echo what other GMs around the country know: that the agent is a tenacious bulldog who only looks out for what's best for his clients.
What Washington General Manager Mike Rizzo has discovered is that the best interests of his team and the players on his and Boras' roster all aligned this season. Actually, Rizzo, a former minor leaguer himself, was Arizona's director of scouting when he first bonded with Boras. Two of the agent's clients--shortstop Stephen Drew and pitcher Max Scherzer--signed with the Diamondbacks in 2004 and '06 respectively, and after long discussions with Boras that Rizzo described as "animated," a level of trust was established between the two.
As Maese reports, that carried over when Rizzo moved to the Nats first as assistant general manager and now as the GM. Meanwhile, Boras also built a good relationship with Washington owner Ted Lerner that was born out of a sad chapter in Anaheim Angels history: the loss of free agent first baseman Mark Teixeira to those damn Yankees.
After a great season with the Halos--he hit .358 with 13 home runs and 43 RBIs after the Braves traded the slugger to the Angels, who would post their first 100-win season in franchise history before losing to Boston in four games in the 2008 playoffs--Teixeira indicated he wanted to play closer to his family in Maryland. Besides the Bronx Bombers, he fielded offers from Baltimore and Washington, which put his agent, Boras, and Lerner in close quarters. Maese picks up the story:
Boras says Teixeira met in-person with Ted Lerner early in the process and told the Nats' owner he'd likely sign with a team closer to contending. Boras said he, too, had several discussions with Lerner, and visited the Washington owner at his home in nearby Palm Springs, Calif. Lerner entertained him with stories about Pearl Harbor and his high school gym teacher, Red Auerbach. According to Boras's telling, Lerner insisted on making an offer, which was reportedly slightly higher than the $180 million Teixeira accepted from the New York Yankees.
"I think [Lerner] realized I was being upfront with him. . . . I think they appreciated the whole process," Boras said.
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And that appreciation payed dividends when it came to Washington signing Werth, Harper and the rest.
But with 82 major-league clients the Scott Boras Corp. has negotiated more than $250 million in contracts for the 2012 season--Maese notes that, assuming a standard 5 percent cut for each client, Boras' take-home salary would be more than most ballplayers--the agent makes it clear in the piece he has not channeled his energies for one particular team. It just seems to have worked out that way for the Nationals as Boras continues to see the best for every one of his clients, no matter what uniform they are wearing.
He has a reputation to protect, after all.