Scott Boras explains his offseason
The Red Sox are hoping. Scott Boras is knowing. That was the reality Thursday night as the agent boarded his private jet for the next press conference.
One of the parties have already defined their success, and it wasn't the one serving up the sushi. It was the guy eating it on his way to tarmac where Carlos Rodon's six-year, $162 million deal was punctuated.
Earlier in the day he was in New York. Then came Boston. Next will be Philadelphia, followed by San Francisco. Boras' plan heading into the offseason had unfolded just as the agent envisioned.
"I don’t want to say this, but we were pretty much exactly on point with three of our players that signed in the free agent market," Boras said, identifying Xander Bogaerts and his 11-year, $280 million deal with the Padres as one of the three. "We knew the demand. We knew the valuation. It was pretty much how we thought it would be."
While Boras had to wait until he left Fenway until the latest agreement with the Yankees was finalized - somewhat spoiling the irony of toasting a deal with the Red Sox' rivals using Boston's own glasses - he hasn't had to wait long for the 2022 offseason success to be defined.
The Red Sox? That's another matter, entirely.
The press conference to introduce the Sox' biggest investment to date - Masataka Yoshida - was a step in the right direction if for no other reason than it represented doing something. Just as Boras had a plan for his guys, this was a reminder that the Red Sox also have some sort of blueprint, with the pursuit of the outfielder representing part of that vision.
"The way this went is we had an evaluation on Masa," Boras explained. "We literally had so many people who wanted to get on a Zoom call to get to know him. So I said, ‘We cannot do this. I’m going to have to develop the ZBO, the Zoom Buyout.’ You know the player. We’re going to put an evaluation of the player. If you want to get involved let us know but basically we cannot do the volume … Because when the posting occurred every team wanted to meet and do this. It couldn’t function that way because the demands was literally in the teens for this player. So we decided to do it this way. We found out which teams were aligned with us in our evaluation and which teams weren’t. We also looked and said we’re going to go with Boston first because we felt the player could execute here well. Playing here, being a left fielder, suited him."
The agent added, "We made a decision after we looked through, we narrowed it down to three teams. We said, ‘What place do we believe is the best suited for Masa.’ We chose Boston. We let them know we’re only going to have Zooms with one team and it’s up to you if you’re aligned with us, and they were. ... There was only going to be one Zoom and frankly that Zoom turned out to be live."
The Red Sox locked in on Yoshida - the diminutive, yet powerful, lefty hitter with a superior ability to control the strike zone and not swing and miss - as part of their vision. That much is clear. What is also becoming a bit clearer is what might have prevented a Bogaerts press conference in Boston.
Listening to Boras, it sure sounds as though his impression is that the Red Sox fully expected Yoshida to be playing left field behind a shortstop named Marcelo Mayer - not Xander Bogaerts - in the not-too-distant future.
"There are so many times where you go through free agency where people say, ‘Why didn’t you whatever?’ You could go ask the club and they are guarantee they are going to give you four or five reasons. There is a shortstop they have in the minor leagues they want to play here, I would imagine," the agent said. "He’s a pretty good ballplayer. You go everything and they have models. I’m not sure there is a right or wrong to it. I just think when you make the decision you have to look at the broad spectrum of impact on your team, your market, your leadership, your growth. But on the other side you also have to kind of allow their models and their plans to grow to do things. In one cases, it has been highly successful. I don’t fault decision-making. All I know is that if you have alignment, you can kind of see it.
"When we talk to players about free agency, we certainly see what they like to and what they’re used to, and such is expressed. But what is on the other side is an organizational element. I went through this with Bryce Harper in Washington. He had been there. He liked it there. He wanted to stay there. But guess who was coming? Juan Soto. So the reality is that you can’t fault organizations for expressing their model because they are going to go sign a left-handed pitcher. You know what? That model worked because that pitcher they signed coupled with that group and that lineup, they won. So the idea is that you don’t say what would they have done. You have to say, let their model speak, you go through it. But the key thing from our perspective is we have an element of what is Xander’s goal: Winning. What is also his goals? He wants his appropriate evaluation of the market. And, you know what, he found that on a number of levels. He chose that. For them, their model had a different modality to it and they moved forward to it. So when we get into the right and wrong areas, you have to let time and such take its course to really evaluate."
So, flat-out, did Boras get the feeling that Mayer was the Red Sox' priority all along?
"I’m really the wrong guy to answer that," he said with a smile. "I think there is a talented player. A very talented player."
Bogaerts or no Bogaerts, things clearly hasn't gone as seamless as the Red Sox had hoped this offseason. Zach Eflin. Andrew Heaney. More Plan Bs than Chaim Bloom have had to come into play than he had hoped.
And even when the Red Sox get to celebrate the acquisition of a player they really value - much more than many in the majors - the news is countered by another Boras deal with the Yankees (Rodon) making an already uphill task even steeper.
There are still trades to be made. Perhaps Dansby Swanson ultimately finds himself sitting at that same stage Yoshida found himself Thursday. And maybe Rafael Devers finally gets the Red Sox to meet his asking price. The Sox' story has been an uneven read to date, but it still has yet to be fully told.
The same can't be said for Boras. As Thursday proved, he can have his Fenway sushi and eat it too.