Scott Boras: 'There’s no team in baseball that lost money last year'


Much of the discussion leading up to and in the early stages of baseball's 2020 MLB Winter Meetings has centered around the financial uncertainty that teams face because of COVID-19.

Despite reaching the postseason in 2020, the Cincinnati Reds are furiously shedding salaries. They non-tendered reliever Archie Bradley, who posted a 1.17 ERA in six games with the team after being acquired midseason. Monday, the Reds traded closer Raisel Iglesias to the Los Angeles Angels for reliever Noe Ramirez, a 30-year-old with a 4.18 career ERA. The move was largely seen as a way for the Reds to dump the $9.125 million salary that Iglesias will earn in 2021. Oh, and despite the fact that Trevor Bauer just won the National League Cy Young Award as a member of the Reds in 2020, it doesn't seem that the organization will mount a serious attempt to retain the star righty.

In Philadelphia, the Phillies just missed the postseason for the ninth straight season, and appear on the cusp of wasting the respective peaks of Bryce Harper and Aaron Nola. Still, managing partner John Middleton has expressed uncertainty about the future of J.T. Realmuto, saying that re-signing the two-time All-Star catcher is a priority, but unclarity about whether and to what extent fans will be able to attend games in 2021 could affect their budget for this upcoming season. The Phillies just cut 80 positions within the organization, citing the economic fallout of the pandemic as their reasoning.

Still, baseball's most powerful agent, Scott Boras, aggressively pushed back against the idea that baseball is facing economic peril.

“There’s no team in baseball that lost money last year,” Boras told Bill Shaikin of The Los Angeles Times, referring to the 2020 season.

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred told Eric Prisbell of Sports Business Journal in October that the league's 30 teams lost close to $3 billion combined in 2020, saying that fan attendance at games creates up to 40% of the sport's revenue in a given season. No fans were allowed to attend games during the pandemic-shortened 60-game season, and as such, teams seemingly lost money during the 2020 season. Rob Maadi of The Associated Press has reported that the Phillies, for example, suffered $145 million worth of losses during 2020, despite player salaries being prorated for the shortened season.

Boras' claim that there weren't teams who lost money in 2020, well, it seems to be pretty clearly incorrect.

However, there is a difference between an organization losing money and the organization's ownership groups, headed by billionaires with other financial interests, necessarily losing money. Additionally, in some cases, ownership groups have total net worths of over $5 billion, so you're left to wonder whether some of the organizations, even if it's not ideal, could have afforded to take massive losses for the 2020 season and still continue to pay all of their employees.

Perhaps that's too idealistic, though. Even if ownership groups would still be worth billions of dollars after losing hundreds of millions of dollars in 2020, it appears many around the sport will be hesitant to make financial commitments until they enter a more certain economic climate. The 2021 season probably won't provide that, because as much as it appears progress is being made at an extremely impressive rate on a COVID-19 vaccine, we don't know if the season will start on time, and when stadiums will be able to be at capacity again.

Boras famously said in May that MLB owners can't "privatize the gains and socialize the losses." And some don't. Seemingly, though, certain organizations aren't prepared to spend in the same manner that they otherwise would this offseason, and that is directly related to the losses that Boras doesn't believe took place during the 2020 season.

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