This entry was posted on 12/11/2008 3:04 AM and is filed under uncategorized.
Baseball sources all over the lobby of the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas have been confirming all week that Boston’s interest in free agent first baseman Mark Teixeira, who represents the in-his-prime power-hitting, Gold Glove-fielding complete player that is a “franchise cornerstone” type player, is both legitimate and overwhelming.
With that in mind, super agent Scott Boras is again a major character in the off-season saga known as the Red Sox Hot Stove season and held court for more than 20 minutes in two different locations. Boras spoke for roughly five minutes in the lobby just outside the Bellagio Casino, but was escorted by hotel security to the MLB media workroom when a huge crowd of frenzied media members began crowding around him.
Much of what Boras churned out was typical agent-speak, but here’s an interesting little nugget from Mr. Super Agent that puts all things Teixeira – and why the Sox front office is interested in the 28-year-old free agent -- into a neat, little verbal bow: “I would imagine most modern teams like Tex because he’s the unique player that has a great on-base percentage, a great OPS and power. He scores runs, he drives in runs, he hits for a high average, so he’s a very special talent. And the real thing that people comment on all the time with Tex is that he’s a Gold Glove player. He’s a plus defender. When your second base, shortstop and third baseman know that they just have to get it close to him, they’re a lot more relaxed players. A Gold Glove first baseman can add a very confident element to the team.”
My best guess: Teixeira signs with the Red Sox for eight years and $190 million and the Sox have a major headache with the Lowell/Ortiz/Youkilis/Teixeira logjam at 1B/3B/DH headed into spring training.
SB: We’ve talked with numerous clubs all day and we’ve been on the phone with them all day. We’re just going through the negotiating process.
Close to getting a deal done?
SB: There’s certainly, as you’re going through it, a feeling that something could happen or something could be accomplished. I think a lot of these decisions require some patience to get them done.
Anything close with Teixeira?
SB: With Tex we’ve been going through a number of offers from clubs and we’re looking for an evaluation from him. It’s not something that you can say is imminent, but he has a number of offers go through. We’ve received a number of offers and have gone back and forth with the teams and now we’re moving in directions with the clubs that are involved.
How is he weighing the different considerations with each club? SB: The considerations are his family, the economics and winning and all of those are parts of the evaluation process for him.
How are you finding the catching market for Jason Varitek right now? SB: It’s something where Varitek is a guy that is a winning player and as we go through things we’re listening to different clubs and then making decisions. Plus the Red Sox themselves.
How big a factor is the offer of arbitration with regard to the market for him? SB: Well, not all clubs have to [get involved]. There are some that will and some that won’t.
[Inaudible question about Manny Ramirez]
SB: There are as many as 10 teams that need a 3 or 4 hitter in baseball and, both he and Teixeira, they both drive a lot of interest and it’s just a matter of marshaling our way through the situation.
Does Mark still think Christmas is a realistic deadline, as he said on TV?
SB: I hadn’t heard that one…I’ll have to watch that show. Obviously you want to get [deals] done as quickly as you can, but really a lot of them are about a lot of economic and contractual elements and stipulations and Mark really understands the complexity of it because he’s dealing with a lot of clubs that he has to go through and evaluate.
As you talk to clubs, have you had to reevaluate your read on the economy? SB: As I’ve said before, baseball has 30 economies and it’s an extraordinary time – not only because of the economy but baseball is also an industry that’s not like every other business because we have a built-in contractual structure where the clubs are receiving…if you’re the worst team in baseball you get $65 million coming to you from central baseball and revenue sharing, which allows you to operate before you even sell a ticket or park a car.
So, we have a club where the parents file bankruptcy and the baseball team is operating very well and offering multi-million contracts to people and signing them. We’re our own industry. The Cubs are the best example. You see somebody in bankruptcy and you see a club that is its own subsidiary that is very successful and acts very independently of the parent.
Does Teixeira need to go to a contender? SB: I think all of that goes into the factors of winning, his family and his economic needs. Obviously if the teams are bidding for a player where they can’t immediately win, they certainly need to have a lot of answers for why that is before it would be a short door for them.
Did Mark tell you how much he wants to go home to the DC/Baltimore area? SB: Certainly part of Mark’s decision is complex because he has regional ties and certainly the family thing is a part of his consideration.
What else is part of the consideration for Teixeira? SB: Well obviously there’s the club, the club’s ability to win and win long term, commitment by the owners long term to the franchise being successful, where they play, and the city are the kinds of things [he’ll consider]. He’s played in both leagues so he’s had an opportunity to make an analysis about what’s best for both him and his family. And of course the economics too.
Where do you think you are as far as an end game? SB: We’ve been working pretty well around the clock here for a couple of days and we’ve certainly had time to meet multiple times with multiple teams. But I’ve been through these things before and they could get done in a short period of time or they certainly could go well beyond the time frame of these meetings too.
Anything that could get done tomorrow? SB: There are some things that could occur that could allow that to happen. At this point in time I can’t say that we’re that close to getting a deal done...no.
In 2004 Jason Varitek made it clear that he wanted to stay with the Red Sox. Is that the same situation this time around? SB: I think that ‘Tek has always been a person who has been the captain of a team in the Major Leagues. It’s a rare event and certainly Boston has let us know that they want him back and we’re talking about it. But you also have to go out and look at other situations that might work out as well that might be available to him.
How serious are the Red Sox about keeping Varitek? SB: Well, when a Major League team approaches you about a player and offers a contract then I guess that’s serious.
So the Red Sox have offered a contract? SB: Yes.
Has there been more aggressive bidding for pitching with Sabathia off the board? SB: I think the market for starting pitching is a little more defined now, and certainly the clubs that maybe involved on C.C. and the clubs were always interested in those players. In this market, I think that 14 or 15 teams are involved with five players, and as those franchise players move I think it gives those clubs that have the wherewithal to make large financial commitments to players…they may move in the direction of the next player in the line whether it be a hitter or a pitcher.
You said that Boston let it be known they wanted to Jason Varitek back…have they let it be known they want Mark Teixeira as well? SB: I’ll let you talk to Boston about it when it comes to free agent players.
Does C.C.’s contract change the landscape as far as a position player with contracts? SB: Well, I think when position players are coming in you have A-Rod up there with $30 million, so I don’t think it has a measurable impact on position players. We had a couple of free agents that signed last year that are instructive. Normally when you’re negotiating position player contracts the metrics you are more inclined with like players.
[Inaudible about Teixeira going to Baltimore] SB: For any player when you’re going to look at your hometown you’re going to look at it a little differently. Whether it’s outcome determinative or not, I’ve had situations where it has been and others where it hasn’t.
With him specifically has he mentioned that? SB: He’s mentioned a lot of things, but I would just say that they are factors.
He’s not turned off the fact that the Nationals have lost 100 games? SB: I don’t think most Major League players are excited about anyone losing 100 games. I think he might be excited about the fact that the team has a #1 draft pick when he wasn’t on it and I think that would be a point of light.
Have there been any indications given the struggles of Baltimore and Washington that they would be viable places for him? SB: Well, I think that you talk to the clubs about that and they all have presentations and they have designs and they have approaches that they provide to free agent players that give them the landscape for – if they’re not winning currently – how they can in the short term.
And if they are winning currently, then how it’s going to continue. That’s pretty common to free agency.
Is it necessary for Mark to meet with the teams that have bid? SB: Mark has met with all of the teams that he's involved with and with ownership and many others.
Are all the teams he’s met with personally still involved? SB: I’m not going to narrow this down.
What’s the market for Derek Lowe? SB: I’m not going to go with specific teams, but there’s been a lot of interest from a lot of teams and we’re marshalling through that now.
With Mark, are you discussing parameters with teams or are there concrete offers? SB: No...no...For all of the clubs with...many of the players, they've made concrete offers and we’ve countered and gone back and forth. So things are ongoing.
Has any team other than the Red Sox offered Jason Varitek a contract? SB: I’ll talk to you about the player’s existing team, but I’m not going to talk about any other teams too. You'll have to ask them about that.
The Angels made clear as of yesterday that they hadn’t offered [Teixeira] a contract yet this off-season. SB: I think you might want to revisit that with the Angels.
What about the market for Oliver Perez? SB: He’s a 26-year-old left-hander and obviously he’s won some big games in the postseason, so there’s a good deal of interest in those types of pitchers.
What about the relationship between potentially going after Manny and Teixeira? SB: I think when you’re talking about clubs that need a bat they’re trying to fill it in a number of different ways. So obviously with those type of hitters – franchise-type players – you’re looking at a number of clubs that one or two of the players might be the answer for [them].
Did you meet with Artie [Moreno] yesterday? SB: You’ll have to ask Artie.
What’s the market for Derek Lowe? SB: We’re in the process of taking offers. We’vr gotten a number of offers out there and it’s just a matter of reaching those final steps.
Do you get the sense that he wants to move quickly on this? SB: I think every player wants to move quickly, but the process is usually often a little slower than that.
With the Yankees agreeing to Sabathia, does that make it more desirable to Lowe or anyone else? SB: I think it gives players more of a roadmap of where the Yankees are going. If I’m a baseball player and I have C.C. Sabathia on my team then I think it’s something to be welcomed. I think from the Yankees' perspective that it certainly adds a star player to their team and is one that helps them in their efforts to win.
Ned Colletti said the other day that they hadn’t heard anything from you as to their first offer from Manny? SB: Well, I think you’ll have to revisit that with Ned on that. I think that information is inaccurate.
Does Manny still want to go back there? SB: Manny had a great time in LA and he really enjoyed playing there last year. We’ve told the Dodgers all along that he has an interest in playing there again.
Have the Sox offered Jason Varitek a multi-year deal? SB: No, I just said that we've sat down and talked about a contract for Jason. I’m not talking about the terms.
Derek Lowe said he would be interested in going back to Boston. Is that interest there? SB: I’ve talked to the Red Sox about a lot of players, and you’ll have to talk to them about who they have interest in.
Oliver Perez credited a lot of his growth to being in New York. Is that a consideration? SB: Well, I think there’s always a question whether players can perform well in New York and do well particularly in key situations. Having Oliver played there, done well there particularly in the postseason, it really adds to his value – not only for the New York teams but for the other teams in case they have to come in and beat the New York teams.
Scott, can you say how many teams have contacted you about Manny? SB: Again I’m not going to get into specific numbers because then you’ll be calling every team, but I’d estimate there are 9 or 10 teams that need a 3 or 4 bat in some direction to improve their lineup. Certainly we’ve been contacted by a number of clubs about that.
Has Lowe professed any desire to you about going to Boston? SB: I’m not talking about where players want to go. Obviously Derek Lowe wants to play for a winning club and play for a contending club. Certainly there are a number of teams that fill that bill for him and have contacted him.
Have you found it to be tough economically during this off-season? SB: First of all, when you look at the real world you have to understand there are millions of people losing their jobs and many companies making changes. There are a lot of things going on. But the interesting thing about our world of baseball, though, is that we have an unusual foundation to our game.
We’re contractually subsidized by a league television contract and local media contracts and other guarantees that come with teams. And interestingly enough when clubs in our business mal-perform or don’t perform well they get a $65 million guarantee in $40 million in revenue sharing and $25 million from central baseball. Usually when a person doesn’t perform they can’t go out and pay down their mortgage, but in our business you can go out and not perform and be in last place for 15 years and go out and take out the money you’re given and pay off your debt while increasing your equities. It’s not a normal business.
We have a club where the parents are in bankruptcy and the baseball team is out there acquiring multi-million dollar contracts and being one of the major participants in the payroll of baseball mainly because they’re successful and it’s good business to do so. So we’re a very different industry and certainly there may be an impact from the economy. But if there is one – and we have to look at the historical aspects of it to which there's a question of there will be – and even in a 10 percent [profit drop-off] we would move from $6.5 [billion] being revenues to $6 [billion] and that would still be a record base from where we were just a year ago.
You said there were 9 or 10 teams looking for a 3 or 4 bat…do you think that the frequency of 3 and 4 bats on the free agency market is becoming a rate occurrence? SB: You’re talking about franchise players. Guys that are extraordinary players and can put teams on their backs and take them places. The other thing about these players is that they have the ability to pay for themselves. There’s demonstrated evidence that these players put people in the seats, they boost TV ratings, they single-handedly in many ways make their clubs different and in doing so help them win.
It creates greater fan interest and normally in a free agent market you don’t have those players available.
Is Manny one of the players that’s had contract offers from more than one team? SB: I’m not talking about individual offers that players have or what they’re doing…other than the fact that you can imagine these types of players are coveted by the teams and we’re working through an analysis of the offers.
What kind of market have you found for Felipe Lopez? SB: A very good one, actually.
How many teams? SB: Well, I would say there are clubs that recognize his ability and the versatility of what he does: playing shortstop, second base and outfield. He’s a player that has been offered contracts.
With Varitek are you confident that he’ll receive a contract higher than he would have received in arbitration? SB: I’m not going to talk about values, but obviously Jason Varitek is a guy that teams know what his value is. I think it’s clearly an easy question to answer that he’s going to be employed and do very well. To whether or not he would have done better in arbitration, I’m sure we would have been able to build a pretty good case for him.
Is there any concern about the catching market shrinking with the trades? SB: The catching market is the hardest one to predict, particularly for journalists. The fact is that the teams who have existing catchers don’t say they’re unhappy with their catchers because they can’t find better catchers. So until they know they can acquire a better catcher they often don’t let you know there’s an opening. It’s a very experienced-based position and it’s the one position in baseball that there are so few candidates for positions and the subjective analysis is so great for that position. A lot of what’s said about catchers and the importance of catchers is left off the page. Representing catchers is a lot like finding submarines. You have to look under the water to find out what’s really going on.
Was Varitek declining arbitration an easy or difficult decision? SB: It was never considered.
Where are you in the process for Oliver Perez? SB: Like most of the pitchers, we’re filtering through the layers of teams because there may be some teams that may be interested in multiple pitchers. The economics of it are something they’re looking at and there are a number of teams that are trying to improve themselves. There’s an opportunity to do that at a very high level, and once those players are off the board you’ll look to teams pursuing players at the next tier.
How is Joe Crede’s back? SB: He’s fine. He’s going to start skill workouts here in January and he’s got some great reports from the doctors. We're really encouraged. He’s doing his workouts pain-free and we’ve got the necessary information to show clubs what we have.
The Sox have shown a willingness and an openness to lock up their young players…is that something Jacoby Ellsbury is interested in? SB: Well that will be nice to consider for me because that will mean it’ll be about mid-January. With each situation, I present it to the player for their consideration.
With a couple of closers sign recently, have you seen a market develop for Eric Gagne? SB: I think that obviously people that have done back-end work at the level he does and the fact that he finished up strong and his velocity was up at the end for the Brewers – and particularly because he showed he worked out in a set-up role – I think that if [a team] has a need for a closer and the economics certainly aren’t as high like they would be for a guy that carried on the role for the prior season – then I think he could be a candidate.
Have you surprised by the development this offseason? SB: I think you’re always surprised. When you negotiate you find teams doing things that you didn’t know that they would ever do. The predictability of this process is ever-more unpredictable. The great thing about baseball is that it’s an ownership process and they have the wherewithal to do what they want to do. We’re fortunate to represent some very really players, and because of that the ownership and baseball people see that there’s value in making decisions that wouldn’t normally be made.
For example, when Mike Ilitch came out and signed Pudge after losing 119 games and signed Magglio three years later a team that everybody thought was going to be in a bad situation for a long time found themselves in the World Series, and in a different place.
On the basis of an ownership level, it was a very unusual factor and something that really changed the face of the franchise.
How do you balance multiple free agents? SB: Well, we have a great staff. We have up to 15 people here and up in our war room we have all our computers and phones manned and we have multiple meetings. The good news is that you're conditioned to stay up late and go through things. The good thing is that the clubs do a very professional job, they job in prepared and we're able to get a lot done in a very short period of time.
We're able to listen to one another and it really helps to have a lot of experience with the people you work with. Because they know you and you know them. You're able to ferret out and listen to all the dynamics that you know about their particular ownership group and what they have. It makes the process work a lot more fluidly.
Does that every make for a conflct of interest representing so many players? SB: Usually when you represent players in the same category it kind of helps the players a little bit.
Did the Varitek offer come in the last couple of days or in the last few weeks? SB: We’ve been in discussions with the Red Sox. When it comes to the contract offers, I wish you would go to the teams.
Well the teams tell us to go to you. SB: Well it’s good game we’ve got going on: ping pong.
With so many players, when do you consider this a successful Winter Meetings? SB: Well, the Winter Meetings for me are something that allow to run through a whole list of things logistically in very little time. I know it gets judges ultimately by the contracts that get done, but for us it's about the information that we've gathered. With each player you can qualify so much and get so much done, and then in the following days [of the meetings] there isn't a need for traveling or personal meetings to take care of things when other times of the year you have to fly. I know the meetings are judged by contract offers, but I never look at it that way.
Is Cleveland in on Joe Crede? SB: I'm not going to answer that. All I would say is that Joe Crede is an All-Star third baseman. The only question about him from last season is what his health is like, and I think the best evidence we've got is from the doctors and the fact that he's ready to go for next year. I think it's going to be a positive year for Joe next year.
Does the Yankees getting Sabathia take them out of the running for Teixeira? SB: I think that’s a question you’ll have to ask the controller there. I think the Yankees have always been conditioned to get better any way they can. This free agent market is a pretty unique time for teams because when you look at the number of offensive players available – other than maybe Matt Holliday next year and the year after that I can’t think of a guy that's a consistent 30 home run, 120 RBI guy that’s available and you have to go all the way to 2011 to get to Prince Fielder, Ryan Howard and Albert Pujols in the big bat free agent market place – for a franchise-type bat it’s time to move on one that’s available.
What’s the proper length of contract for a player of that stature? SB: Well, I think that’s to be negotiated.
Do you use existing contracts or the market for that off-season? SB: You look at the player himself, you look at the individual team and you certainly look at the historical aspects of the market and the performance levels of the player, so there’s a lot of dynamics that goes into it in the negotiation.
How well does Teixeira fit into the Red Sox offensive philosophy? SB: I don’t know. I would imagine most modern teams that like Tex because he’s the unique player that has a great on-base percentage, a great OPS and he has power. He scores runs, he drives in runs, he hits for a high average, so he’s a very special talent. And the real thing that teams comment on all the time with Tex is that he’s a Gold Glove player. He’s a plus defender. When your second base, shortstop and third baseman know that they just have to get it close to him, they’re a lot more relaxed players. A Gold Glove first baseman can add a very confident element to the team.