Jay-Z vs. Scott Boras

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Jay-Z took Scott Boras’ big client away. And then dissed him on his album. But does he really have what it takes to make a real dent in the Boras Empire?

Well, that’s kind of a loaded question. And one which obscures the fact that, in reality, Jay-Z is not sitting down at a table to baseball general managers. There are people affiliated with his budding sports agency who are more experienced and proficient with all of that. Pitting Jay-Z himself against Scott Boras himself is a fun narrative, but one which ignores that each of them sit atop large operations employing a lot of professional folks who know what the heck they’re doing.

Which sort of explains why Boras himself, while offering a few jabs at Jay-Z in Jerry Crasnick’s excellent article about all of this, seems pretty zen about it all. Or as zen as he can pull off. He’s been working on his agency for 30 years and, whatever else you can say about Boras, “work” is the key word there. He hasn’t rested on his laurels or reputation. And while the Robinson Canos of the world may be sexy, Boras’ reputation and excellence is built just as much on how he handles the guys further down the marquee, in lesser cities than New York.

Not that Jay-Z is going to fail. Like I said: choosing between him and Boras is a false dichotomy borne of drama, not of baseball business reality. Ultimately, there’s enough room for more than one super agent in baseball. But it will be interesting to see how Jay-Z’s outfit does beyond the one big name he’s signed so far.

Anyway: It’s a good read and you should go check it out.

Orioles sign Alcides Escobar

Alcides Escobar
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The Orioles have inked shortstop Alcides Escobar to a minor league contract, MLB.com’s Joe Trezza reported Saturday. The deal comes with an invitation to spring training and will allow Escobar to earn $700,000 in the majors if he breaks camp with the team (via Jon Heyman of MLB Network). The team has yet to formally announce the agreement.

Escobar, 32, completed an eight-year run with the Royals in 2018. No longer the .280-average, 3.0-fWAR player of seasons past, he hit several career lows after batting .231/.279/.313 with four home runs, eight stolen bases (in 10 chances), and a .593 OPS through 531 plate appearances last year. His defensive ratings also took a hit, and FanGraphs pegged him as the fourth-worst shortstop in the majors after he accumulated -12 DRS over the course of the season, only slightly higher than the Orioles/Dodgers’ Manny Machado, Mets’ Amed Rosario, and Red Sox’ Xander Bogaerts.

Still, Heyman holds that Escobar is being considered for the starting gig this spring and could yet prove an upgrade over top prospects and infield candidates Richie Martin and Drew Jackson. At the very least, the veteran shortstop figures to stabilize the position given Martin and Jackson’s relative inexperience, as both infielders played to varying results in Double-A Tulsa last year and have yet to break into the majors. Should either player earn consideration for the position in camp, however, Escobar might still work his way onto the Opening Day roster in a utility role as he saw some time at third base, second base, and center field in 2018.