Baltimore Orioles: Does Scott Boras have a conflict of interest?


To be blunt, “Scott Boras is what can happen” when superagents take over a sport. The guy’s great at what he does for his clients, without a doubt. However he’s also seemingly flipped the foundation of player representation on it’s back. Whereas in the past players would have to put up big numbers to justify future contracts, now it almost seems that teams such as the Baltimore Orioles almost have to warm up to players and by extension their agents.

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I was fascinated to read this article by Joel Sherman of the New York Post last week. Albeit perhaps in a passive-aggressive manner, it might appear that by Boras’ comments (and note that Boras represents both Matt Wieters and Chris Davis) he’s almost attempting to tell the Orioles how to construct their roster:

"I think Matt Wieters is a great hitter. He is a switch-hitter with 20-homer power. He has to be on the roster hitting for this team."

The first part of that statement is spot on; his .000 average in spring training aside, Matt Wieters is a great hitter. However that last sentence is the one that should concern Orioles fans. It comes across as an agent telling a team that he wants his client on the roster – and at all costs.

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There are two manners by which we can look at this. The first one would say simply that it’s natural for Boras to want what’s best for his client. And the fact is that there can be no doubt about that. Sports agents cannot possibly succeed if they don’t on some level care about their clients. But are we really going to believe that’s the final thing that needs to be said in this matter?

If you really want the game to work on your behalf, you almost have to act in a manner similar to Frank Underwood’s character in House of Cards. For those of you who don’t follow that program, let’s just say that you have to behave in a Machiavellian manner at times.

Boras knows that Wieters and Chris Davis are free agents after this season. He also knows that the Orioles want to keep both players. According to various sources, the O’s have allegedly approached Wieters/Boras on numerous occasions about an extension – and recently, at that. However as is the case with most Boras clients, Wieters seems to be destined for the free agent market. And the same is probably true with Chris Davis.

However by comments like what we see above, Boras is already starting his game(s). And it would appear he’s playing that game on behalf of both players. If Wieters opens the season on the DL, his perceived value could well go down. So it’s in the best interest of Matt Wieters in terms of his numbers to be on the roster in some form, even if as a DH. And what’s in the best interest of Matt Wieters is also what’s in the best interest of Scott Boras. And thus by extension, Chris Davis.

This is not to say that Davis and Wieters are a package deal by any means. But Boras’ aim is to instill the fear of God in teams so that they might believe that if they don’t play ball with him on one player, they’ll lose both. We’ve seen Boras use the Orioles as leverage in the past of course, most famously with Mark Texeira. Are we really to believe that Boras is simply a lamb dressed as a wolf, and thus he’s looking out for his client? Or is he trying to make a play on someone so as to look out for himself?

The point here is that this is a ploy by an agent to attempt to manipulate the roster of a team – for his own benefit. Make no mistake about the fact that if Wieters and/or Davis leave after this year, the Orioles will have a really tough time replacing them. And Scott Boras knows this. He wants the Orioles to believe that he’s already throwing feelers out there with other teams to gauge interest in

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Wieters. However the Orioles are standing in the way of that by having the nerve to mull DLing him to start the season.

If there’s one thing that we can say for sure, it’s that Peter Angelos and Dan Duquette aren’t exactly guys who will be taken for a ride easily. If Wieters somehow ends up on the roster for opening day, it’ll be due to the fact that he’s ready to play. If not, the Orioles will do what’s truly in Wieters’ best interests and also in the best interests of the franchise – they’ll DL him for a period.

And when I say a period I mean a week or so. His anticipated return date is April 11th. Is Boras really splitting hairs over the fact that his client might miss a week’s worth of at-bats? Or is he more concerned that the terms of his future contract’s terms might be changing…? Ultimately, if Wieters and/or Davis leave at the end of the day, is that on the Orioles for not “playing the game?”

It’s easy enough to say that Wieters and Davis will sign with the highest bidder – that is Boras’ way, after all. However the question is whether or not the highest bidder is found prior to the player(s) technically being free agents. (Nevermind the legality or morality of that.) Boras is telling the O’s how he wants things done through the media. However the O’s aren’t the type to allow themselves to be extorted. So which comes first, the chicken or the egg?