I was fairly taken aback the other day when I heard that Jacoby Ellsbury had signed with New York. However real warning bells went off in my head when I heard that they also had interest in Shin-Soo Choo of the Cincinnatti Reds. The correlation?…they’re both Scott Boras clients. Boras has long had a “chummy” relationship with Yankee management, evidenced by how many of his clients magically end up in the Bronx. (In fairness Boras has that same kind of relationship with Boston, so in that sense he robbed Peter to pay Paul.) However here’s where fans of the Baltimore Orioles need to be a bit concerned; Zach Britton, Chris Davis, and Matt Wieters are all Boras clients. (For the record, Manny Machado is a former Boras client but he’s no longer represented by Boras’ agency.)
Disgregarding Britton for the moment, those last two are players are guys that the Orioles can’t afford to have end up in pinstripes. The Matt Wieters situation is one that’s been discussed ad hoc here on Birds Watcher. However at some point the franchise will be in the same situation with Davis. Quite frankly, if any of those players (perhaps even Britton) ends up in pinstripes (or in Boston for that matter) the O’s might be facing a fan revolt of some sort. However is it really something that within anyone’s control?
Sure it is; the O’s could vastly (and I mean VASTLY) overpay for this talent now. It’s been well-documented here on Birds Watcher that Boras likes to see his clients hit the open market. Translated, he wants teams like the Yankees (and BoSox) who have proven to pay these ridiculous salaries to have a shot at signing his client. So in dissuading someone like Davis to re-sign with the Orioles while he’s still under contract, Boras is able to shop him to teams like NY and Boston. Not only do those teams pay well, but they have a good relationship with Boras – mainly BECAUSE they pay well.
So couldn’t the Orioles play the game a bit? I think they do play if a lot more often than we think. However the fact is that the O’s have kept Boras at an arm’s length over time. One positive step in terms of “relationship building” was the hiring of Andy MacPhauil, who’s good buddies with Boras. However the O’s ultimately stepped up and signed Wieters and Manny Machado (when he was with Boras) to rookie contracts. Again, money talks. The Birds are much more on Boras’ radar than they were seven or eight years ago, however it probably won’t ever be what his relationship is with NY.
Who knows how things play out, however this is something that should be of concern to the Orioles. Furthermore, free agents that could help the team might not even be shopped to the Birds. Worse yet, the O’s could be used as leverage to drive the price up for other teams; don’t forget the Mark Texeira situation. Guess who his agent is? Ultimately the Orioles need to ensure that their players remain with them in some manner. Again as I said, there might be a fan revolt if not.