This is classic. Scott Boras was on Sirius/XM with Jim Bowden yesterday and the subject of Jayson Werth’s gigantic contract came up. Bowden — as is his admirable wont — cut through the courtesy stuff and simply told Boras “I just can’t believe you pulled that off.”
Boras, however, gave a long and seemingly thoughtful explanation as to how the Jayson Werth deal fit into the greater theory of Nationals baseballology. Or something:
“So, in doing that, and evaluating that, you have to say, ‘Is that player going to provide something to the franchise in addition to his performance?’ And I think this is where we look at major free agent signings, particularly with franchises like Washington, that in addition to the performance the player brings, which would probably be 23 to 25 HR’s, 90, 95 RBI’s, in addition to that, we have someone now that allows Bryce Harper’s arrival in the major leagues to be something that is more a function of his performance rather than a need to make sure the fanbase knows that we’re taking the next step. We also know that from the standpoint of attracting free agent pitchers, or attracting a closer, or attracting any other free agents, that we have an ownership that is now embedded in the market place as someone who is a destination that they know the ownership is committed…
“So, in addition to growing for the player’s performance, the brand in Washington is now a different brand. It is now an acknowledged brand. Their fans know it. Other players know it. And it provides a brand value to the franchise that did not exist prior to Jayson Werth signing.”
I don’t know about you, but I was in a trance by the third sentence, and I’m a trained baloney-detector. The Nats’ brass likely had no hope in resisting. That is, if they even realized what was going on. Indeed, they probably woke up, saw Boras’ last demand and had some vague but urgent sense that they had to give Werth $126 million. Like this guy.
On Monday we passed along a report that Major League Baseball and the MLBPA are negotiating over an international draft. That report — from ESPN’s Buster Olney — cited competitive balance and the well-being of international free agents as the reasons why they’re pushing for the draft.
We have long doubted those stated motivations and said so again in our post on Monday. But we’re just armchair skeptics when it comes to this. Ben Badler of Baseball America is an expert. Perhaps the foremost expert on international baseball, international signings and the like. Today he writes about a would-be international draft and he tears MLB, the MLBPA and their surrogates in the media to shreds with respect to their talking points.
Of course Badler is a nice guy so “tearing to shreds” is probably putting it too harshly. Maybe it’s better to say that he systematically dismantles the stated rationale for the international draft and makes plan what’s really going on: MLB is looking to save money and the players are looking to sell out non-union members to further their own bargaining position:
Major League Baseball has long wanted an international draft. The driving force behind implementing an international draft is for owners to control their labor costs by paying less money to international amateur players, allowing owners to keep more of that money . . . the players’ association doesn’t care about international amateur players as anything more than a bargaining chip. It’s nothing discriminatory against foreign players, it’s just that the union looks out for players on 40-man rosters. So international players, draft picks in the United States and minor leaguers who make less than $10,000 in annual salary get their rights sold out by the union, which in exchange can negotiate items like a higher major league minimum salary, adjustments to the Super 2 rules or modifying draft pick compensation attached to free agent signings.
Badler then walks through the process of how players are discovered, scouted and signed in Latin America and explains, quite convincingly, how MLB’s international draft and, indeed, its fundamental approach to amateurs in Latin America is lacking.
Read this. Then, every time a U.S.-based writer with MLB sources talks about the international draft, ask whether they know something Ben Badler doesn’t or, alternatively, whether they’re carrying water for either the league or the union.
I don’t know why Bill Murray is in Washington today. I don’t know why he’s at the White House. But I do know that he was there in Chicago Cubs gear, standing at the lectern in the press briefing room, voicing his full confidence in the Cubs prevailing in the NLCS, despite the fact that Clayton Kershaw is going for the Dodgers tomorrow night.
“Too many sticks,” president Murray said of the Cubs lineup. And something about better trees in Illinois.
Four. More. Years.