Scott Boras on how to fix the draft and free agency (talks about the Nats)

On ESPN’s website Scott Boras wrote an interesting post on how how to fix player acquisition and movement in MLB
http://insider.espn.go.com/blog/buster-olney/post/_/id/2825

As with most recommendations, the source needs to be considered when looking at his proposed solutions.  He makes a few good points, but he also make a few self interested points.  Lets look at them:

1.  Qualifying Offer System:  His first fix has to do with the qualifying offer system implemented in the last CBA.  This is the system where Adam LaRoche coming off a year where he won the Silver Slugger and the Gold Glove, but couldn’t find a team willing to sign him for more than 2 years and surrender their 1st round pick for him.  Boras compared him to Shane Victorino and notices that he got the same money per year but 3 years compared to LaRoche’s two.  The comp Boras uses isn’t completely accurate because LaRoche, while he had a better year last year, is two years older only plays 1st base, where Victroino can play all three outfield positions (giving the the team more flexibility).  Boras also provides a better comp of Dempster and Lohse which makes a better case for his point that new system penalizes veteran players.  His solution is let teams keep their draft allocations for signing restricted free agents for players over 31 years old.

My take: The age limit in interesting, because this rule hurts a very small group of players who have a value of 14 million, but are approaching the end of their career.  The rule was put into place to compensate teams for losing a good player and penalize the signing team.  In theory this helps the competitive balance.  It works better in the case of a player like Josh Hamilton who signs a very lucrative multi year deal and not a veteran player trying for one last multi year contract  He proposes age 31, maybe you make that higher.

What is in it for Boras: he loses a lot of leverage trying to negotiate a contract for a player like Lohse, because the team has to factor in other compensation not directly going to the player and agent.  Of the three suggestions, this is the one I think is in the best interest of the game more than the agent. 

2.  Slotting System in the Draft Reform:  Boras wants the slotting system in the first round of the draft eliminated.  Right now, players drafted in the first round generally know exactly how much their first contract is worth.  Teams are giving a draft salary cap based on where they pick in the draft.  Teams with higher picks get more money team late in the first round get a lot less.  This was put in place to remove bargaining power from the player and agent and avoid holdouts.  He wants the team to be allowed to go over slot in one round a year.

My take: His main point here, and it makes sense, is that player talent varies from draft to draft.  The first pick might be Bryce Harper or it could be Matt Bush.  More importantly, Boras points out that one of his client, Mark Appel slid to 7th in the draft when he had one/one talent.  Appel held out and re-entered the draft and went one/one the next year.  What Boras doesn’t mention, is that this was put into the draft to keep salaries of first year players down.  Is it fair, not to super talented players who slip in the draft, but the draft is inherently unfair to the players.  The intent of this rule change was to prevent teams like the Expos bypassing the best player in the draft to avoid protracted contract negotiations.  Before this change it was routine for teams to bypass the best player available to avoid certain agents (cough..Boras).

What is in it for Boras:  This rule change makes the agent almost irrelevant for drafted players.  Of course he wants it changed.

3.  Stop Punishing American Players:  He is upset that Cuban and international players can sign as free agents and American born players have to go into the draft.

My take: The draft is there to improve distribution of talent in the majors.  The league put into place this year a slotting for international free agents who are usually signed much younger than American players.  The Cuban situation is very different because players have to defect in order to play in the MLB.  As long as we have embargoes against Cuba and they players are refused free travel this will be the case.

What is in it for Boras: You can tell how much it burns him that other Spanish speaking agents represent the Cuban players.

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