By The Numbers
---- — Heading into this off-season basking in the glow of their third World Series title in a decade, much of the Red Sox dialogue centered around, “What should GM Ben Cherington do?”
Would he sit tight and be fiscally responsible? Or would the Red Sox make a splash?
Of their four major free agents -- Jacoby Ellsbury, Stephen Drew, Mike Napoli and Jarod Saltalamacchia -- there were really only two questions:
Would they resign Ellsbury and Drew? It was a foregone conclusion that Napoli would return, and once they didn’t offer Saltalamacchia arbitration most figured he’d sign elsewhere.
Perhaps the question wasn’t what Cherington would do, but what would Major League Baseball’s supreme general manager, Scott Boras, do?
Yes, GM Scott Boras, as opposed to the villain uber agent, Scott Boras.
Most people assume, correctly. that Boras’ clients like Ellsbury and Drew will go to the highest bidder. But what they fail to understand is that there are many financial reasons why Boras clients often have to leave.
It was widely reported that Ellsbury would leave when he hit free agency and likely sign with the Seattle Mariners because they had money and were closest to his home in Oregon.
Instead Ellsbury took the top money regardless of geography and signed with the New York Yankees. Most reported it was all about the money, when it was more likely about the money for ... Jackie Bradley, too.
He is a Boras client on the cusp of baseball’s grand stage and ready to begin his six-year free agency clock. If Boras allowed Ellsbury to re-sign with the Red Sox, he would have effectively blocked Bradley from playing center field in Boston and New York.
If Bradley remained with the Sox he’d have been a good-fielding, average-hitting, left-fielder with no power. As a top-rated defensive center-fielder, who hits close to with .300 with a good on base percentage, hitting from the left side of the plate, they can look to Ellsbury and his $20-plus million per year.
As a left-fielder he’s Daniel Nava, an average corner player making down the road about $10 million a year. Or he gets traded for prospects to some Off-Broadway destination where his earning potential significantly diminishes.
Not convinced that it’s Boras who makes the decision and not the GM? Let’s look at the two Red Sox shortstops. Both Drew and Xander Boegarts are Boras clients. Drew turned down a one-year, $14.1 million tender. With no market having yet developed for Drew, it appears to be a mistake on Boras’ part.
The talk is the Sox might sign Drew to a two- or three-year deal at a team friendly price. No way!
Because Boegarts would then become the everyday third baseman. Boegarts hitting 22 home runs, with 90 RBI, while playing third base for the next two or three years as he’s acquiring service time toward free agency would be insane.
Shortstops with those numbers -- Alex Rodriguez, Hanley Ramirez and Troy Tulowitzki -- are $20-plus million dollar a year players who sign 10-year contracts. Third basemen with those numbers are good, but not great players.
And those are the reasons why GM Scott Boras didn’t have Ellsbury re-sign, and won’t have Drew re-sign with the Red Sox.
Peter Delani is a long-time area high school baseball coach, former GM of the North Shore Nagivators and author of A Walk With Daimon.
BORAS' COMMENTS FROM GM'S MEETING On Robinson Cano's new agents and their talk about their "umbrella-type" representation: "It's very different to be the creator of the umbrella versus those who stand under it." On Oakland's general manager finding a way for the low-budget team to compete: "Remember that Billy Beane is the master of goulash. You never know what's in it. You just know it's good at the end of the year. ... The way Billy works is that he adds different things to his goulash every year." On the proposed posting system with Japan, which would impose a $20 million cap on posting fees: "Will it provide incentive to make the major leagues the best in the world and for players to come here? I think they've achieved that. I think that they made the marketplace better for players. I think they opened the door for more teams and more choices." On the Mets' lack of big-money free agents: "They are a very successful franchise. I think that rocket ship has got room for about six astronauts rather than a couple." On the Phillies trying to add youth while keeping a competitive core: "It's like eating and brushing your teeth at the same time. You want clean teeth, but then again you want to survive. So I don't know quite how you do it." On the rules difference that led to Kris Bryant, the second pick in June's amateur draft, agreeing to a minor league contract with the Cubs for a $6.7 million signing bonus and Cuban defector Jose Abreu receiving a $68 million, six-year deal with the White Sox: "We have a player in Kris Bryant that talent-wise, power-wise, because of his skill set defensively exceeds that of the first baseman across town. And one gets near $70 million and the other, the American player, gets $7 million. ... All the money that they saved went to foreign players, and the American players are not justly served. ... There should be a reevaluation by our union with the draft system and also with the qualifying offer because it's been very injurious to a lot of major league players."