Moreover, the Angels say Boras forced them to trade Abbott (he turned down $16 million over four years and then lost to the Yankees in arbitration, after which his salary was set at $2.35 million for this season). Boras places most of the responsibility for the trade on the Angels. "Jim was willing to compromise," said Boras in an interview with the Los Angeles Times last February, "but the Angels' position was that's all they were going to offer. At the same time, the philosophy of the club changed. They're going into a youthful direction.... It no longer became urgent for the Angels to sign him."
In Maddux's case, the Cubs say Boras delivered the pitcher to the Atlanta Braves, contrary to Maddux's wishes to remain in Chicago. Two sources say Maddux, without Boras's knowledge, phoned Cub officials about three days before he signed with Atlanta in December to say he would accept their last offer of $27.5 million for five years. The Cubs told Maddux it was too late; they had earmarked the money for pitchers Jose Guzman, Randy Myers and Dan Plesac. Maddux left for only $100,000 per season more. Boras says it was Maddux who chose to test the free-agent market after the Cubs gave the pitcher just four days in November to decide on a take-it-or-leave-it offer.
In April, Baerga signed a contract extension with the Cleveland Indians over the vehement protests of Boras, who had advised Baerga that as a free agent he could redefine the market for his position, second base. "I tried to give him what I call adversarial information," Boras says. "I said, 'They're trusting in your talent, why shouldn't we?' My job is to provide information. I had one client throw a chair at me. But the bottom line is that the final call always belongs to the player."
While Gilbert employs charm—he likes to greet people with magic tricks and bad jokes—Boras uses argument as if summarizing a case to a jury. "We're totally different, and we represent different players," Gilbert says. "We probably wouldn't appeal to his players, and he wouldn't appeal to ours."
Says Boras, "Agreed."
Boras's diligent predraft roadwork has yielded him yet another prize: high school shortstop Alex Rodriguez, who was the first pick in the draft last Thursday and who, Boras says, "is good enough to play in the big leagues right now." But if someday Rodriguez wants his own 900 phone line or a cameo in a Hollywood flick or a table at Spago, he just might go looking for Gilbert.
[This article contains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]