Boras cites Teixeira, others as cases for draft value
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Scott Boras, the super-agent advising the Pirates' first-round draft pick, Pedro Alvarez, declined to discuss specifics of those contract negotiations in his first interview on the matter last night.
But he did offer a few thoughts on some of his previous draft negotiations, as well as the perception that his demands are excessive, and those thoughts could provide some guidance into his thinking on Alvarez.
"One thing that fans should understand about the draft is that we've only asked for 11 players, in my 36 years of doing this, to get bonuses that have exceeded $4 million or $5 million. All 11 of those players are highly successful in Major League Baseball," Boras said. "And we've only asked for bonuses that exceed $7 million or $8 million a couple of times, and those players are Mark Teixeira, J.D. Drew, Stephen Drew and people of that nature who are all either stars or coming stars. I think it's important to have that context of the work we've done in the past. Our elite players have all turned out to be successful investments for their teams."
Boras traditionally has identified certain amateur players as "special" in advance of a draft. Teams get a fairly firm grasp of what that player will cost, and they know, as a result, whether to let the player drop lower in the order to a team willing -- or able -- to pay that much.
By citing Teixeira and the Drew brothers in an interview with the Post-Gazette -- and one day after Pirates president Frank Coonelly described himself as "frustrated" that Alvarez has not yet signed -- it is possible, though Boras did not say so, that he places Alvarez in that class.
Alvarez, 22, was a standout third baseman at Vanderbilt University almost universally was viewed as the top hitter of this draft class. He also is viewed as the player most likely to arrive in the majors early, with the Pirates largely acknowledging that, too, by not ruling out he could have played in Pittsburgh as early as next season.
A look back at Boras' three examples:
• Teixeira, now with the Atlanta Braves, was drafted by the Texas Rangers in 2001, and his signing bonus was $4.5 million with an overall guarantee of $9.5 million through a major league contract. It set a new standard.
• J.D. Drew, now with the Boston Red Sox, refused to sign with the Philadelphia Phillies in seeking a $10 million signing bonus in 1997. He signed a four-year, $7 million contract with the St. Louis Cardinals the following year.
• Stephen Drew, originally drafted by the Pirates but unsigned, went back to school and re-entered the draft in 2004. He got a $4 million signing bonus from the Arizona Diamondbacks, plus a contract with a potential worth of $7.5 million.
Boras and the Pirates agreed around the time of the draft not to discuss the Alvarez negotiations publicly and, despite the blips the past two days, that largely has held firm.
Without speaking about Alvarez, Boras described his overall dealings with the Pirates' new management to be favorable, although he pointed out he has yet to interact with owner Bob Nutting.
"I have not had the opportunity to meet the owner of the Pirates, so I can't comment on that," Boras said. "A lot of times, the owners of a team fly out to my office or find a way to talk with me through free agency. Our operation is a little different than most agencies, and we usually have that opportunity."
He called his relationship with general manager Neal Huntington cordial.
"Neal, when he got the job, called me, and we've had a few good conversations since then," Boras said. "In general, I've found Neal and the Pirates to be cooperative and professional."
Boras also represents Pirates outfielder Xavier Nady, who, along with reliever Damaso Marte, are the players most expected to be dealt by the July 31 trading deadline. Part of the Pirates' thinking regarding Nady is that, because Boras tends to advise clients to try free agency, Nady will take that avenue when first eligible after the 2009 season. Thus, in that vein, the best chance to get value for Nady would be to move him now or soon.
Asked about that, Boras replied simply that, even though Nady has stated publicly that he wants to stay in Pittsburgh, the Pirates have not approached him or Nady about a contract extension.
"I try to be effective at my job, but I don't employ my clients," Boras said with a laugh. "I can't offer them a check or a job. Only the team can do that."
He cited recent examples of his clients staying put.
"I got Carlos Pena an extension with Tampa Bay last year. He was a fourth-year player, he told me he wanted to stay, and we got it done. I did one with Jeff Weaver in Detroit. If my clients want it and the teams want to do it, things usually get done. I give my clients information. I work for them. I provide a service. I've turned down $100 million three or four times in my career because a player wanted to stay somewhere."
The more likely reason the Pirates would trade Nady, Boras added, is that they have two young outfielders, Nate McLouth and prospect Andrew McCutchen, who probably will play every day next season. That leaves room for one more, which would be Jason Bay.
First Published July 25, 2008 12:46 am