|Scott Boras speaks on Jason Varitek (and lots and lots of other topics)||11.04.08 at 4:51 pm ET|
DANA POINT, Calif.–Reporters at the G.M. meetings tend to congregate in a lobby rotunda of the St. Regis Monarch Beach, largely because all traffic tends to pass through it. At the same time, the area has its drawbacks, foremost among them the fact that the rotunda acts as something of an echo chamber.
Agent Scott Boras at first started speaking there, but was clearly spooked by the echoing acoustics.
“It’s bad enough having to listen to myself,” he said.
Boras relocated to a less reverberating setting where he would not have to hear himself, but many, many reporters could gain insight into the possibilities for a number of his free-agent clients. Among them:
–He compared Jason Varitek physically to Bob Boone and Carlton Fisk, catchers who played into their 40s.
“These players played everyday until they were 42, and continued to play at a very high level,” said Boras.
Boras noted that Varitek’s value is defined not by his offense, but instead by his contributions to the pitching staff and a winning team, and noted that the Sox had a winning percentage of better than 60 percent in games started by Varitek this year, compared to a sub-.500 record with another backstop.
“(Red Sox owner) John Henry said it best,” said Boras. “He said, ‘Whatever has been said about Jason Varitek, not enough can be said.”
Boras also bristled when asked whether Varitek’s reduced offensive productivity (.220 average, .313 OBP, .359 slugging) might affect his value.
“When you talk about Jason’s down year, I basically take issue with the terminology,” said Boras, repeating his insistence that a catcher’s worth is defined by his defense and record. “I know from the past negotiation with Boston, his offense was a very small value in the marketplace.”
Boras also acknowledged that Varitek, whose wife filed for divorce this summer, dealt with some “personal issues off the field that certainly had some impact” on his performance. But the agent remained optimistic about his client’s potential turnaround, recalling that Boone hit .202 as a 36-year-old but rebounded to hit .295 as a 40-year-old.
While the four-year, $52 million deal conferred upon Yankees catcher Jorge Posada prior to the 2008 season was used as one point of comparison–at least from the standpoint of age (Posada was 35 when he re-signed with the Yankees) and winning percentage–Boras suggested that Varitek is unique.
“His marketplace is unto himself because of the value he supplies,” said Boras.
Boras said that he would meet soon with Red Sox G.M. Theo Epstein to discuss his client.
–Boras characterized a vigorous industry-wide interest in the services of Mark Teixeira, and suggested that the power-hitting, Gold Glove first baseman would likely have to restrict conversations to fewer teams than have demonstrated interest. “(Interest) is as widespread as it can be. There’s probably too many teams involved,” said Boras. “We’re not going to be negotiating with as many teams as have interest, that’s for sure…I don’t want to put a number on it.
“For a variety of reasons, he’s just attracted a lot of interest from a lot of teams. Teams that you wouldn’t think were interested were willing to move players, open up positions, to have him be a part of their franchise.”
Boras would not clarify whether the Red Sox–who have Kevin Youkilis at first base, but could make room for a player like Teixeira by shifting Youkilis to third–was among them.
Boras said that a player like Teixeira–young and productive both at the plate and in the field–reaches free agency roughly five or so times a decade, citing Alex Rodriguez as one such example.
–Boras compared outfielder Manny Ramirez to Alex Rodriguez and Barry Bonds as a benchmark of the sort of contract duration he seeks. With both of those multi-MVP winners, Boras secured contracts that would last through age 42. “(Ramirez) does more for you than production. He creates millions of dollars of revenue,” Boras noted, suggesting that Ramirez is a franchise player who creates ticket sales and revenue, and who also helped the Indians to their first two World Series appearances since 1954, and then helped the Sox win their first two World Series since 1918.
More on the Boras session in a bit…
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