Scott Boras, when asked about the idea of signing guys for short contracts that cover their arbitration years:
“I’m more into 12-year deals for young players,” Boras replied. “The M.O. is, you want to keep them in the franchise, and you want to be there for the fans and be a marquee for them. So why not?”
Of course Boras is going to be for massive deals because he’s Scott Boras. And of course you’re going to mock him because you love to mock Scott Boras. But go read Adam Kilgore’s article and listen to what else Boras has to say on the matter. And you realize that he makes sense.
No, most players aren’t worth that deal. Heck, no player may be worth the risk of a deal that long. But the underlying idea — that smart teams find ways to move away from what the pack is doing and that it’s probably better for teams to find ways to lock up a core of several players rather than just one or two superstars — and you can almost see the sense in giving, say, Bryce Harper or Mike Trout a deal that takes them into their 30s.
Boras says a lot of audacious things. But audacious doesn’t mean crazy. And, in a lot of ways, Boras got where he is by being willing to be audacious.
Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant was one of the most prominent examples of service time manipulation in recent memory. He was ranked as the No. 1 prospect in baseball going into the 2015 season by Baseball America. He then had an incredible spring, batting .425 with a spring-high nine home runs and 15 RBI. The Cubs, however, didn’t add him to the Opening Day roster, instead keeping him in Triple-A for the first two weeks of the season, ensuring the club would get another year of control over Bryant because he wouldn’t accrue enough service time. He made his debut on April 17 and the rest was history. Bryant won the 2015 NL Rookie of the Year Award.
While the MLB Players Association filed a grievance on his behalf, Bryant didn’t say anything. But it was a learning moment for him. The same is true of the past offseason, which Bryant says “opened my eyes,” as Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times reports. He now considers labor issues a priority, saying, “I need to study up, have my voice heard, continue to learn, because this is going to affect us for years to come. And I’d be foolish not to kind of offer myself out there.”
As Wittenmyer notes, Bryant hopes to replace Jake Arrieta as the Cubs’ player reprensentative. The players make that decision later this month. Bryant also vowed to fight for the next collective bargaining agreement. He said, “Maybe the focus was on other things rather than some of the more important things. But I think with this next one things are definitely going to change, and there’ll definitely be more fight on our side just because we’re going to get the chance to experience the effects of some of the things we agreed to. The only way to get what you want here is to fight for it. And I think you’re going to see a lot of that.”
It’s good to see Bryant motivated by recent economic developments in baseball. Hopefully more players take his lead and become more informed, arming themselves with all of the tools they need to create a better situation for themselves when the current CBA expires.