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Hard Line
Tom Verducci
January 19, 2004
Will Scott Boras's waiting game help or hurt his clients this year?
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January 19, 2004

Hard Line

Will Scott Boras's waiting game help or hurt his clients this year?

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Contract Contraction
A price check of comparable free agents from the 2000-01 off-season (listed first) and this off-season.

 

Age

HRs

RBIs

Avg.

Contract

POWER-HITTING OUTFIELDER

Manny Ramirez

28

236

804

.313

8 years, $160 million

Vladimir Guerrero

27

234

702

.323

5 years, $70 million

SLICK-FIELDING FIRST BASEMAN WITH LITTLE POWER

David Segui

34

121

590

.292

4 years, $28 million

J.T. Snow

35

173

773

.263

1 year, $1.75 million

 

Age

W-L

ERA

IP

Contract

VETERAN STARTING PITCHER, PROVEN WINNER

Mike Mussina

32

147-81

3.53

2,009?

6 years, $88.5 million

Andy Pettitte

31

149-78

3.94

1,792?

3 years, $31.5 million

HARD-THROWING RIGHTHANDED STARTER/RELIEVER

Darren Dreifort

28

39-45

4.28

667

5 years, $55 million

Kelvim Escobar

27

58-55

4.58

849

3 years, $18.75 million

January is the traditional month for markdowns on bath towels, bed linens and journeyman pitchers, not on two potential Hall of Famers coming off solid years. Among the unclaimed inventory this late in the off-season, however, were righthander Greg Maddux and catcher Ivan Rodriguez. Both are represented by Scott Boras, who has stuck to his high-stakes waiting game even in the face of the industry's economic slowdown.

"I think he understands there's been a regression in the market," Padres general manager Kevin Towers says. "But he knows all it takes is one team to get a deal."

Says Boras, "When [owners] know when a player is ready to sign, that's when they'll come running. I profess it is still an issue about talent. This idea of timing determining value is something I find not to be true."

Though Maddux and Rodriguez each had strong relationships with their former teams, the Braves and the Marlins, respectively, neither came close to re-signing. General manager John Schuerholz says he "assumed our chances of re-signing Greg were zero" after the agent told him that Maddux, 37, did not expect a large pay cut from the $14.75 million he earned last year. Schuerholz's mandate was to cut his 2003 payroll of $95 million by $15 to $20 million this year.

Towers made a brief attempt last month to lure Maddux to San Diego, but, like Schuerholz, he cut bait quickly. "Scott made it clear he wasn't going to take that much of a discount," Towers says.

Boras is seeking at least a two-year, $20 million deal for Maddux and expects him to sign this week, according to executives. One source says Boras has one "big-money" offer from an East Coast team, believed to be the Orioles, but that Maddux's priority is a competitive West Coast team in the National League. The Dodgers are one possibility, but the Giants have not entered the bidding because of the price. One executive predicted Maddux would sign with the Cubs, where he started his career, because "they have the money this late in the game to get it done."

Like Maddux, Rodriguez, 32, garnered only a one-year deal as a free agent last year, with $7 million of his $10 million salary deferred. He played well for the world-champion Marlins (.297, 16 homers, 85 RBIs) but priced himself out of their plans by asking for a multiyear deal at $10 million per. Rodriguez could find the most money in Detroit, where the 119-loss Tigers are trying to buy some respectability, but he may go to Baltimore after Vladimir Guerrero spurned the Orioles to sign with Anaheim (box, below). The Cubs have also shown interest.

When asked if Boras would succeed, Towers replied, "It may happen. It may only lead to one-year deals, but he did it last year, and he can do it again."

Asked about taking one-year deals again for Maddux and Rodriguez, Boras said, "I can tell you that will not be the case."

[This article contains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]

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