No, this is not an article complaining about how much money the New York Yankees paid Gerrit Cole. It’s done. He’s making $36 million per year. Hopefully this team can win a World Series before the contract ends.
But it is important to note the business of baseball, as we’re stalled because of a lockout. Think about who’s really disadvantaged here. It’s not the best players in the game. It’s the fringe roster guys. The supporting cast. The middle-to-lower class, if you will.
That’s why when Commissioner Rob Manfred bragged about how “over $1 billion” was spent by the owners before they decided to lock out the players, all we did was laugh. Yeah, agent Scott Boras, who represents the best of the best or decides to take on a client after a few career-altering years, made that happen. Max Scherzer, Corey Seager and Marcus Semien are all repped by him, and they combined for a total of $630 million of that money.
So why even mention Boras? The problem here is that, kind of like in everyday life, the interests of the select few are protected while everyone else is left to fend for themselves. A sad reality. Team control, minor league options, minimum salary and other aspects that the players union is fighting for really only hurt guys who aren’t among the best in the game. Those making a majority of the league’s money are hardly affected by a lockout. That’s just the reality.
So as Boras drives up wages for the top ~10% of players in the game, the owners then go ahead and put themselves in a financial bind of sorts. The buck stops somewhere. And as we can see with the Yankees, Cole’s $324 million contract was the organization’s biggest expenditure since 2014, and then they immediately tried to get under the luxury tax threshold the next season, effectively wasting a year of Cole’s prime. But perhaps even worse, you don’t see as big of a trickle down effect as you’d expect for lower-profile players throughout the game.
Boras is to blame here, specifically when it comes to Cole’s bloated deal. So are the Washington Nationals. Because after their World Series victory in 2019, they went ahead and gave Stephen Strasburg a ridiculous $245 million contract over seven years. That’s a $35 million AAV … for a guy who’s never won a Cy Young. For a guy who’s pitched 200 or more innings just twice since debuting in 2010. For a guy whose injury troubles were well-documented for years! How did Boras negotiate this, and how did the Nationals not laugh him out of the room?
Then came time to negotiate Cole’s contract … a day later. The prized free agent was coming off two career seasons, both of which were eons better than anything Strasburg had accomplished (outside of his 2019 postseason run). And Cole was two years younger. So what’d you think was going to happen? Cole had to get paid more annually and get more years. He’s better!
And it’s quite mind-boggling how it’s gotten to this point. By no means is there a lack of support for players getting paid here, but Boras somehow having these teams by the b–ls to make them pay $245 million for Strasburg, thus driving up the price exponentially for every future starter that has better numbers or is coming off a career season, is chaos.
Before Strasburg’s deal, here’s a list of league’s top-paid starting pitchers:
- David Price: 7 years, $217 million
- Zack Greinke: 6 years, $206 million
- Chris Sale: 5 years, $145 million
- Patrick Corbin: 6 years, $140 million
- Jacob deGrom: 6 years, $137.5 million
- Yu Darvish: 6 years, $126 million
- Clayton Kershaw: 3 years, $93 million
- Everyone combined: Seven Cy Youngs, 37 All-Star Game appearances
Strasburg might end up being better than only two of the names on that list when all is said and done.
Boras backed the Nationals into a corner, likely played the “this guy just won you a World Series card” (to be fair, he did), and said “OK, you can either take your chances here or wait until I get Cole to sign an even bigger record-setting deal.” Prior to 2019, Strasburg hadn’t made 30 starts or pitched in more than 175.1 innings since 2014.
At the end of the day, yes, it comes down to the agent. Why isn’t Jacob deGrom the highest-paid pitcher in the league? Why has Clayton Kershaw only earned $207 million throughout his Hall of Fame career? Truly don’t know!
Why don’t more teams say “no” to Scott Boras, though? Does he have dirt on every owner? Because for some reason the league has no problem turning away other players and agents … or at least it feels that way. Boras is never denied. Players hire him because they know they’re going to get the most amount of money possible.
We’d just like to know how he’s able to flawlessly succeed in this manner no matter who he decides to represent … and how he just keeps getting more and more money for his clients even if they have obvious shortcomings or a lack of accolades.