Whether you choose to believe it or not, the Orioles do have interest in Prince Fielder. This has been confirmed publically by Dan Duquette and Buck Showalter numerous times. The interest is there, however the Orioles don’t want to pay an Albert Pujols-like price for Fielder. This also appears to be the case for every other team that’s interested in him. Many people speculate that Fielder’s body type has something to do with this in that people are afraid that he’ll eventually wear down and start to fizzle before he should due to his weight. There may well be some legitimate concerns there, however is there also some showmanship at play here?
When I say showmanship, I’m talking more about Fielder’s agent, Scott Boras, than Fielder himself. Boras is by far the best agent in baseball in that he gets the most lucrative deals for his clients (see Albert Pujols’$254 million over ten years with the Angels). We all know his history so I’m not going to rehash it too much, however he is to baseball what Drew Rosenhaus is to the NFL. It’s gotten to the point now where we hear of teams that have a good relationship with Boras. So teams now in essence have to suck up to Boras lest they risk him either not considering them for his clients, or forcing them to pay a higher premium.
Needless to say, Scott Boras has probably changed baseball. If one agent can scare teams into “playing ball his way” when it comes to free agents, that’s kind of a big deal. It seems that the process of finding Prince a home for 2012 and beyond has turned into a game of Family Feud. To that point, some teams have even made moves that might be construed as making it more difficult to sign Fielder. The Texas Rangers signed Yu Darvish last week, which means they’d have to take a significant hit in revenues to sign Fielder. The Washington Nationals extended Michael Morse (a potential first baseman) last week as well, all among others. So are people tired of Boras’ routine?
The key with Boras has also been that he uses some teams as leverage to get better deals (such as when he used the Orioles to get Mark Texeira a deal in NY). I guess what I’m wondering is whether or not the current situation is presenting itself more as a result of teams having questions on Fielder’s body type or as a slap in the face to Boras himself. I suspect that a lot of franchises are tired of the same old routine each time one of his clients is up for grabs. Especially a team like the Orioles, whom Boras has left standing at the altar a few times. I suppose I would say that I respect Boras’ ability to do his job in that he gets the best deal possible for his clients. However there’s a fine line between that and bullying people/holding teams hostage.
If in fact there is some “gamesmanship” going on on the behalf of some teams, it’s also a dangerous game. All it takes is for one team to decide to play ball and the others are going to be left at the altar. Negotiations can be a game of chicken-and-egg at times. Regardless of where Prince Fielder ends up, I’ll be interested to see what Boras has to say about the process and so forth. Without a doubt this has been one of the toughest negotiation processes of his career as an agent. Whether or not there’s a wink-and-nod agreement amongst baseball executives to string this out long just to make Boras flail in the wind is another story. However needless to say it is a bit funny to watch him flailing in the wind.
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