Prince Fielder and the Most Ridiculous Scott Boras Contracts in Baseball History
On Thursday afternoon, in a packed press conference at Comerica Park, the Detroit Tigers officially introduced their newest acquisition, prized free agent first baseman Prince Fielder.
Fielder, who with the help of Boras inked a nine-year, $214 million deal in the city his father previously called home, will make $23 million annually for the first two years of the deal and $24 million for the final seven.
Before everyone starts decrying how free agents and ridiculous contracts are ruining baseball, let's not forget the simple law of economics—supply vs. demand.
With a short supply of top-tier players and a high demand from teams coveting those players, the price remains high. It really is that simple.
However, that doesn't change the fact that fans, pundits, experts, analysts and others will view deals like the one signed by Fielder as ridiculous in nature.
Here is a list of contracts signed by Scott Boras clients that may be viewed as particularly egregious.
Honorable Mention: Matt White, Tampa Bay Devil Rays—$10.2 Million Bonus
After compiling a 0.96 ERA during his career at Waynesboro Area High School in Waynesboro, PA, starting pitcher Matt White was drafted by the San Francisco Giants in the first round of the 1996 MLB Draft.
However, Scott Boras, who was retained by White as his agent, was able to leap through a loophole in the draft rules that allowed White to become a free agent after the Giants failed to sign White in the required 10-day window at the time.
The Tampa Bay Devil Rays, thinking White could be a stud in their future, came calling with a boatload of cash, and Boras negotiated a $10.2 million bonus for White.
There was just one slight problem—White never made it to Tampa Bay, wallowing in the minors for seven seasons and a lifetime 4.64 ERA before finally giving up on his dream in 2003.
Boras' commission on the deal: $510K
11. Adrian Beltre: Texas Rangers—Five Years, $64 Million
Throughout the career of third baseman Adrian Beltre, he has been perceived as a guy who only conveniently produced big numbers during walk years—2004 with the Los Angeles Dodgers (.334, 48 HR, 121 RBI) and 2010 with the Boston Red Sox (.321, 28 HR, 102 RBI).
When Scott Boras set up negotiations for Beltre's services, the Los Angeles Angels and Texas Rangers were the two teams most interested, and Boras wrangled a five-year, $64 million for his client with the Rangers.
Based on his numbers in his first year, the contract may not look all that ridiculous, as Beltre hit .296 with 32 HR and 105 RBI, adding another five homers and nine runs driven in during the postseason as well.
Boras' commission on the deal: $3.2 million
10. Kevin Brown: Los Angeles Dodgers—Seven Years, $105 Million
In December 1998, starting pitcher Kevin Brown made history by becoming baseball's first $100 million man, and there was no shortage of critics at the time.
Brown was coming off three outstanding seasons, two with the Florida Marlins in which he led the National League with a 1.89 ERA in 1996, and helping lead the Marlins to the World Series championship in 1997. In one year with the San Diego Padres, Brown was 18-7 with a 2.38 ERA.
Still, critics lambasted the Dodgers for giving a pitcher in his mid-30s a guaranteed seven-year contract that also included a clause for a chartered jet to fly Brown's family back and forth to LA from Macon, GA 12 times per year.
While Brown's numbers in LA certainly weren't horrible (58-32, 2.83 ERA), he was sent off to the New York Yankees after five seasons and no playoff appearances.
Boras' commission on the deal: $5.25 million
9. Alex Rodriguez: Texas Rangers—10 Years, $252 Million
If you thought that agent Scott Boras was a shrewd negotiator before 2000, then his next deal really made you believe.
With mega-superstar Alex Rodriguez in tow, Boras shopped his free agent client following the 2000 season, and the numbers for A-Rod at the time were impressive—one AL batting title, three straight 40-plus home run seasons, two top-three MVP Award finishes and the promise of much, much more to come.
Texas Rangers owner Tom Hicks was once again wooed, and in January 2001, A-Rod had by far the biggest contract ever signed in MLB history—10 years and $252 million.
It would be hard to say that Rodriguez didn't deliver during his time in Texas, leading the American League in home runs in each of his three seasons, winning the MVP Award in 2003 for a last-place team, only the second player in history to accomplish that feat (the first being Andre Dawson in1987 with the Cubs).
However, A-Rod's deal precluded the Rangers from improving the rest of their lineup, losing 89, 90 and 91 games during A-Rod's brief but spectacular stay.
Boras' commission on the deal: $12.6 million
8. Prince Fielder: Detroit Tigers—Nine Years, $214 Million
On Thursday afternoon, prized free agent first baseman Prince Fielder was living a dream.
After months of speculation about where the gifted slugger would end up, the Detroit Tigers swooped in with an offer that was Godfather-like, and Fielder was not about to refuse.
Scott Boras was at his best with this one. Knowing that the Tigers would be looking to replace the offense lost with designated hitter Victor Martinez's ACL injury, Boras entered negotiations with Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski.
Give credit to Mike Ilitch here. The Little Caesars owner desperately wants a championship for his club, and in spite of the fact that he'll have to sell a lot more pizzas, he just may get his wish.
Boras' commission on the deal: $10.7 million
7. Mark Teixeira: New York Yankees—Eight Years, $180 Million
Bidding wars are always fun, especially when it involves two of the richest teams in baseball who absolutely hate each other.
That's exactly what happened in the offseason following the 2008 season. First baseman Mark Teixeira was entering free agency after hitting .308 with 33 HR and 121 RBI between the Atlanta Braves and Los Angeles Angels.
Teixeira was brilliant for the Angels, hitting .358 with 13 HR and 43 RBI following the trade deadline deal.
Teixeira was highly coveted by the Angels and Boston Red Sox. The Baltimore Orioles and Washington Nationals made offers as well, but it appeared that Teixeira could be headed to Boston after they made an eight-year offer believed to be in the range of $165-$170 million.
However, the Evil Empire swooped in at the last minute, blowing Teixeira and Scott Boras away with an eight-year, $180 million offer, and Teixeira was in pinstripes.
Teixeira led the American League in home runs (39) and runs batted in (122) in his first year with the Yankees, helping to lead them to their 27th World Series title in 2009. He hasn't been all that bad the last two years either, producing two straight 30 HR-100 RBI seasons.
Boras' commission on the deal: $9 million
6. Jayson Werth: Washington Nationals—Seven Years, $126 Million
There must be something about seven-year, $126 million contracts that gets people's goats.
That was the deal that Scott Boras engineered for his client Jayson Werth, only this time, the Washington Nationals were the willing suckers...er, participants.
Werth was certainly productive during his four years with the Philadelphia Phillies, however, he may have been just the fourth-most valuable position player on his team at the time, yet Boras was able to induce the Nats to pay Werth top slugger money.
Werth's first year in the nation's capital was anything but slugger-worthy, hitting a paltry .232 with just 20 HR and 58 RBI.
Boras' commission on the deal: $6.3 million
5. Chan Ho Park: Texas Rangers—Five Years, $65 Million
When Korean right-hander Chan Ho Park's contract expired with the Los Angeles Dodgers after eight seasons, Park's agent, Scott Boras, painted a rosy picture of his pitcher, so to speak.
Texas Rangers owner Tom Hicks obviously enjoyed Boras' presentation, signing Park to a five-year, $65 contract, making Park one of the ten highest-paid players in the league at the time.
Park did win 22 games during his time in Texas. The problem was, that was spread out over three-plus seasons, along with a not-so nifty 5.79 ERA.
Park and his bloated contract were sent off to the San Diego Padres at the trade deadline in 2005, with Hicks and the Rangers paying the majority of the rest of the contract.
Boras' commission on the deal: $3.25 million
4. Kevin Millwood: Texas Rangers—Five Years, $60 Million
Coming off a season in 2005 with the Cleveland Indians during which he led the American League with a 2.86 ERA, starting pitcher Kevin Millwood, with the help of trusty agent Scott Boras, signed a four-year, $48 million contract with the Texas Rangers, with a vesting option for a fifth year at $12 million.
Millwood produced a 48-46 record and 4.57 ERA during his time in the Lone Star state, the worst ERA of his career with any team. The Rangers couldn't wait to unload Millwood following the 2009 season, shipping him off to the Baltimore Orioles along with $3 million in cash.
Since Millwood pitched the required 180 innings in 2009, his vesting option kicked in the following season for the O's, a season in which he led the American League in losses (16) and produced a 5.10 ERA.
Boras' commission on the deal: $3 million
3. Andruw Jones: Los Angeles Dodgers—Two Years, $36.2 Million
In 2007, his 12th season with the Atlanta Braves, center fielder Andruw Jones struggled mightily, hitting just .222 with 26 HR and 94 RBI, a far cry from the 51 HR and 128 RBI just two years previous.
Still, Jones was only 30-years-old, and the Los Angeles Dodgers assumed that Jones' 2007 campaign was an aberration. Jones' agent, Scott Boras, obviously sold the Dodgers on the fact that Jones indeed still held great value, convincing them to sign Jones to a two-year, $36.2 million deal.
After one season, the Dodgers literally couldn't wait to hand Jones to another sucker, er, team. Jones was simply awful in LA, hitting .158 with three homers and 14 RBI.
The Dodgers were forced to re-structure Jones' contract just to be rid of, getting MLB to sign off on the restructuring before granting Jones his release. Under the terms of the restructured contract, the Dodgers owed Jones another $22.1 million to be paid over the following six years.
Boras' commission on the deal: $1.81 million
2. J.D. Drew: Boston Red Sox—Five Years, $70 Million
The merits of this particular deal will no doubt be debated for many years to come, even in business economics classes in college.
Coming off a year during which he hit .283 with 20 HR and 100 RBI for the Los Angeles Dodgers, right fielder J.D. Drew signed a five-year, $70 million contract with the Boston Red Sox.
At the time, the deal was largely panned, with critics saying that Boras completely hoodwinked the Red Sox, and proponents lauding Drew's ability to "get on base."
While there is no question that GM Theo Epstein and Sox management valued on-base percentage, the general perception after five years is that the contract was definitely an albatross. Drew's numbers across the board during his time in Boston (.264/.370/.455/.824) were considerably lower than his career stats (.278/.384/.489/.873), and the perception that he was fragile never abated.
Boras' commission on the deal: $3.5 million
1. Barry Zito: San Francisco Giants—Seven Years, $126 Million
Heading into the 2012 season, there have been many questions regarding the San Francisco Giants, with much of the talk having to do with fixing their anemic offense.
However, the Giants' starting rotation is considered one of the best in the National League, in spite of one particular pitcher—Barry Zito.
On the heels of a spectacular seven-year career across the bay with the Oakland Athletics, during which he won the AL Cy Young Award in 2002, Zito signed a seven-year, $126 million contract to work his magic with the Giants. Trouble is, he left his magic on the other side of the bay.
The Giants are still on the hook for $46 million over the next three seasons for Zito, who has won only 43 games in five seasons and was left off the postseason roster in 2010 when the Giants captured their first World Series title in 56 years.
Boras' commission on the deal: $6.3 million
Doug Mead is a featured columnist with Bleacher Report. His work has been featured on the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, SF Gate, CBS Sports, the Los Angeles Times and the Houston Chronicle. Follow Doug on Twitter, @Sports_A_Holic.
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