In the upcoming offseason, the Boston Red Sox will face a tough decision regarding outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury, but rival New York Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano has made things a bit more interesting.
Ellsbury and Cano will arguably be the top two free agents to hit the open market after the season concludes and up until a few days ago, were both represented by the most notorious agent in baseball, Scott Boras.
It’s evident that no matter what happens during the 2013 season, Boras will be looking to command the most money possible for an extended period of time. He has been a nightmare for general managers in years past, but he's been able to get his clients to sign extensions should he and the player feel like it’s a smart decision.
Just a few days ago, Texas Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus, a Boras client, reportedly reached an agreement on an eight-year extension worth around $120 million, according to ESPN. Andrus made it very clear that Boras “works for us” and that “we’re the boss” despite assumptions that the master negotiator does whatever he wants, according Gerry Fraley of The Dallas Morning News.
Sometimes, however, Boras and his client don’t agree. That seems to be the case with Cano, who fired his agent on April 2 and decided to hire Creative Artists Agency instead. While the exact reason why Cano made this decision hasn’t been confirmed, there have been some theories thrown out by the national media.
A source told John Harper of the New York Daily News that, “He wants to be a Yankee. He’s wants his money but he’s anxious to sign. Didn’t think that could happen with Boras.” Harper also reported that a source told him Cano wants to get a deal done “sooner rather than later.”
Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports writes that Cano will most likely re-sign with the Yankees, but in general, the agent swap changes the industry. “Quite simply: CAA encourages contract extensions, Boras reveres free agency.”
Basically, if a player wants to sign an extension, there’s really no point in having Boras represent him. Boras lives for free agency, where multiple teams can bid for a player and the highest bidder usually ends up the victor. That doesn’t look to be the case with Cano, who may now sign a deal to be a Yankee for life before hitting the market after 2013.
So how does Cano’s firing of Boras affect Boston’s center fielder?
Well, Ellsbury is in somewhat of a similar situation as Cano. He’s represented by Boras, who most likely will want Ellsbury to hit free agency. Despite his injury history—whether his ailments have been his fault or not—he’s sure to land a large contract. One of the most versatile outfielders to hit the open market, Boras will have a field day pitching Ellsbury.
Whether or not Ellsbury wants to sign an extension before he hits free agency seems to be the biggest question at the moment. If he does, Boras basically has to do whatever he wants. After losing Cano, Boras can’t afford to lose another big-name player and especially one that’s expected to draw a lot of attention in the offseason.
The Red Sox could have traded Ellsbury over this past offseason if they truly felt they didn’t have a chance at bringing him back beyond 2013. Boston refrained from pulling the trigger of any gun that another team may have presented it, and for the time being, Ellsbury is still with the Red Sox.
“Ellsbury is a very talented player and we know what he can do on the field when he’s feeling good physically,” general manager Ben Cherington told Peter Abraham of The Boston Globe. “We’re obviously a better team when he’s on the field and we’d love for to be a Red Sox for a long time.”
The problem, though, is that no matter how much the Red Sox want to re-sign Ellsbury, the speedy center fielder has deferred all contract negotiations to Boras, according to Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe.
Here’s what Ellsbury told Alex Speier of WEEI about Boras and his contract status:
“I know that [the Red Sox] talk [to Boras] not just about me but other guys [on the team]. I know there’s always that constant communication. But if there’s something to be discussed regarding me and the future, that’s when it’s brought to my attention—not every little conversation,” said Ellsbury. “There might be talks that I won’t know every little detail, but if there’s something, a decision to be made, that’s when I would get involved and go from there.”
Boston has the money to extend Ellsbury, but for whatever reason, a new contract has yet to be agreed upon. Maybe Boras has told Ellsbury that it’s better to wait until the offseason to negotiate and maybe that’s actually what Ellsbury wants to do. But if Ellsbury wants an extension right now, he has the upper hand on the situation.
It’s like Andrus said: Boras works for the players. Boras works for Ellsbury.
If Ellsbury wants an extension, Boras needs to make it happen. He’s in no position not to.