The most well-known agent in baseball, Scott Boras , joined WEEI’s Red Sox  Hot Stove program Thursday night to discuss how the market is shaping up this offseason. To hear the interview, go to the WEEI audio on demand page .
A number of teams have a need for a center fielder, which should help Jacoby Ellsbury  when he enters free agency after next season. Boras, Ellsbury’s agent, said that a player at that position who can provide power and leadoff capability is limited.
‘I think when you’re talking about players who are going to be in the market when they are elite players that play premium positions that are 30 or younger, there’s not going to be many,’ Boras said. ‘There certainly aren’t many in this process where you’ve got a few center fielders that are available, that are guys that are going to give you a leadoff or some power. There might be a couple in [B.J.] Upton and [Michael] Bourn. As far as the corner outfielders, I think that market, I wouldn’t say that there is an elite young player that’s available. Really, over the next couple of years, there’s going to be a relative small infantry of people who will be available.’
Boras declined to reveal how he’d value Ellsbury if he were entering free agency today.
‘When we’re done negotiating and players are done performing, we’ll kind of let everyone know what we come up with,’ Boras said.
The Sox completed a blockbuster deal this summer that cleared their three biggest salaries in Adrian Gonzalez , Josh Beckett  and Carl Crawford. Boras indicated that he thought it was a good move, but he said the Sox might have a hard time assembling a team this offseason that can produce runs and power.
‘I think the Red Sox did a very good job,’ Boras said. ‘Adrian Gonzalez, he’s a very valued player, the key to that deal certainly I’m sure for the Dodgers. His value, as we go forward, and the production he’s had particularly in the NL West, he’s going to be considered a player whose value and whose compensation is an asset to a team. ‘¦ And when you look at it from the re-set side from the Red Sox, the hard part is that going out and getting middle-of-the-lineup bats that give you both power and on-base percentage and run production, that had been the keys to the Red Sox’ success in 2004 and 2007 when they won, to fulfill those deficiencies with the talent available is going to be a difficult chore.’
Boras said the second base market in the next couple of years will be very limited as far as high-production players go, but he said a good second baseman adds great value to a team.
‘The key thing is, when you have duality, when you can get Gold Glove defense and then gain middle-of-the-lineup performance out of a second baseman,’ Boras said. ‘When you look at players like [Dustin] Pedroia or [Robinson] Cano, when they perform at those levels for their team, when they provide both ends of that form, it just gives you a real advantage. It’s almost on average when you look at the performance of second basemen, the disparity between the 90 to 100 RBI and the 100 runs scored elements of what those few second basemen of the game do that provide that. You know you get down to the numbers there’s just two or three, as opposed to corner outfielders where there may be 17 of them. So it’s something that’s really, really valuable to a team, a rare commodity. It’s certainly a core of a lineup when you have one like that.’
Boras looked at the relief market, particularly closers. He said a durable closer who can compete all season and then carry momentum into the postseason is of big value to teams.
‘Any team that leads the league in blown saves, and you can look at the Red Sox this year or the Angels, they’re just going to have a difficult time winning,’ Boras said. ‘To suggest that arm strength, which is measured in the minor leagues or even the other aspect durability, which when you have guys that can close but are they durable enough to close, and you have really good offensive seasons and you may have 50 to 55 save opportunities, add in the postseason. I think the rarity of having a people that can put together seasons with 35 saves and then handle the postseason, they’re so important, they’re so necessary, the experience is there and if you don’t have it, I believe you’re running a risk that will make a very, very good team either a non-playoff team or a team that doesn’t allow you to fulfill your expectancies in the playoffs.’
This season teams will have more money back for being under the luxury tax threshold of $189 million. Boras discussed how rising values of franchises will give teams more flexibility in fielding a winning lineup.
‘We’re going to be having each team get $25 million more, double what they got in the national package. We’re having increases in the billions of franchise values with seven or eight teams, you know, the Boston and New York markets, the LAs and the Chicagos. The irony is the Red Sox were purchased in the early 2000s for what the Padres were purchased for now. We’ve just seen rapid growth economically,” said Boras. “You’re talking about [team] valuations that have gone from $750 million to [$]2.5 [billion] to $3 billion. So, with those increases in revenues both annually and franchise values, I think the fans are deserving of the commitments on the part of those teams to field perennial competitive clubs that have a chance to win.’
As part of that, Boras suggested that using the luxury tax threshold as something of a ceiling for payrolls represents an artificial (and, given the revenues in the game, unnecessary) constraint.
“I think any reference to what I call the Goliath tax is frankly a de minimus issue when it comes to what revenues and what franchise values have gone to today,” he said. “It is an expected part of the system that there are teams that are making four, five, six, seven hundred and in some cases already, eight and nine hundred million dollars, that they would be spending and having payrolls that would be in the mid-200s to allow them to have the appropriate number of superstars that increase the ratings and that have been as productive for them to grow their teams in the early 2000s as they would in the decade of the 2010s.”