Scott Boras addresses Jacoby Ellsbury, Stephen Drew and NASA
|11.13.13 at 5:47 pm ET|
ORLANDO — When Scott Boras executed his annual get-together with the media at the general managers’ meetings on Wednesday, there were few surprises. A few witty lines, yes. But no real surprises.
The agent for free agents Jacoby Ellsbury and Stephen Drew sang the praises of both his clients, while not offering any insight into how far along in the process the pair might be in terms of finding a team for 2014.
‘I think every free agent wants to get their deal done yesterday,’ Boras said. ‘There’s kind of a tide that works in this process, and every once in a while you have clubs that make quicker decisions than others, and a lot of that has to do with exhausting trade possibilities along with their plan and design with their owners. Really, it has to do a lot with the math the teams have to do to make the strike. Historically, there’s always a few that jump quicker. But for the most part a lot of teams respond to the pursuit of the player when they know that pursuit of the player has a timetable.’
Added Boras: ‘It’s hard to find talent in the marketplace that could replace them. There aren’t too many free agents I think you can acquire other than a Jacoby or a Stephen that certainly would be available to take their spots.
‘It’s far more than normal for elite players these days just because the revenue structure of the game invites a lot more applicants and the rareness of the talent has a lot to do with the volume of interest. I won’t give you specific numbers, but it’s more than normal.’
Specifically regarding Ellsbury, this is what Boras had to say:
On how the market is unfolding: ‘We’re just looking at all the teams that have expressed interest. He’s going to take a good long look at all of them and decide what his preferences are from there. Frankly, I’m kind of here to collect that now. I’ve not had the discussion with him about all the teams involved yet.’
On Ellsbury’s power potential: ‘Ells conditioned himself and did things to become what he needed to become to help this style of team, and that was stealing bases, being a leadoff hitter and being on base, and, frankly, getting on second base as much as possible. And that’s really what he geared himself to. And he played a good portion of the season with a very, very swollen wrist and hand. The fact of the matter is Jacoby Ellsbury’s compensation is going to be based on all five of his tools. The fact in today’s game, having players that skilled at that position creates the value. It’s not just power. He hits the ball in the gap. If he hits the ball out and does it 18 times vs. 10 times, I’m not sure it has any difference in his value.’On his offensive versatility: ‘When you look at slugging percentage among center fielders, it’s just very difficult to have a profile. You’re looking at guys who can slug in the .440s to the .460s, and there’s few who can do that and play center field. Michael Bourn‘s comparison is more along the line of speed and a player who is a quality defender. I think with [Shin-Soo] Choo and Ellsbury, they can bat third. They have the power to bat third. They can drive in 90 runs batting first, second or third. So their offensive thrust is not confined to the top of a lineup. And being a world championship, not once but twice, says a lot about who you are in a locker room, who you are on a team, and the ability to play in a major market. All of those things play into a very different evaluation.’
On comparisons to Carl Crawford’s seven-year, $142 million: ‘Older contracts are usually just that, older ones, because the revenues have changed, the markets have changed. I think if the markets have gone down you’d be looking at something different, and if the market goes up you’re looking at something different. I don’t know of any player in this market that’s like him.’
And then there were the comments pertaining to Drew:
On how the market views Drew: ‘The idea of Stephen is a top-five defensive player, and offensively his OPS is fourth among shortstops. He provides a lot of player. Is very, very sure-handed. And wherever Stephen Drew goes he ends up in the playoffs. I think a large part of the Red Sox‘ acumen and [GM Ben Cherington‘s] instinct for what makes a winning team is [shown] in the acquisition of Stephen Drew.’
On Drew’s market: ‘If you want to win and you want a middle of the diamond player ‘¦ a lot good teams need upgrades in the middle of the diamond so he’s got a very active and very large market.’
On the dynamic of possible replacements Xander Bogaerts and Jackie Bradley Jr. (both Boras clients): ‘There’s no question Xander Bogaerts is a guy who can play shortstop, he’s going to have a career with a big bat. I think with outfielders it’s a little bit easier. I think everybody knows Jackie can play all three outfield positions. Really those decisions are made by teams. I’m sure they’ll keep us abreast as they go through it.’
Boras also entertained the crowd with a series of one-liners regarding a variety of subjects:
On the Cubs: ‘The family has bought the team, but it’s kind of like meet the parents. I haven’t met them yet.’
On Wrigley Field: ‘Fans don’t come to see seats, grass, cement. They come to see players.’
On Chicago compared to other big markets: ‘I would say they’re apples and oranges, but they’re all fruit.’
On the Astros potentially spending money: ‘The Astros are like Disneyland, if the kids come it’s a great attraction.’
On the Rays playing in St. Petersburg, Fla.: ‘I would say the tale of two cities: the one they’re in and the one they should be in.’
On Blue Jays: ‘There is a process there that is very ready for success. It’s something that is yet to happen, and maybe it will.’
On teams setting budgets: ‘The hardest thing about limits is that it doesn’t limit others, it limits you.’
On free agency: ‘Much like the supermarket, I think teams pick things off the shelf they choose to put in their carts.’
On the Yankees‘ approach: ‘I think the Yankees are in a place where they are clearly out to improve their status from a year ago.’
On the Mets’ approach: ‘The Mets are like NASA. They have big rockets, a lot of platforms and very few astronauts. Astronauts are hard to find. They’ve got one guy with the right stuff, that’s for sure.’
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