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Saturday, January 20, 2018

Inside Baseball | Scott Boras Weighs In On Slow Market

Boras has an expensive computer. OK, then, I’m convinced.

Boras doesn’t ever mention the “C” word but rather says there has to be some sort of “interference” that’s caused the market to halt. He speculates it’s about the analytically-driven, like-minded decision-makers who are using numbers to suggest that the longer deals for older players aren’t working. To that, Boras says, come see my computer. He has a very expensive one, and human computers on a near-100-person staff that suggest otherwise.

According to Boras, players who signed a six-year deal from 1998-2013 have averaged nearly 3.0 WAR per year (2.98), while players who signed three- or four-year deals from 2009-15 have averaged less than half that – 1.4 WAR. The players who signed the long deals also have averaged an .845 OPS while the position players on shorter-term deals have averaged a .750 OPS. Slightly different years were used, but you have to go back a little longer on six-year deals since you need longer lengths to get fair averages, and he’s including some non-free agents, which means a few long-term guys in his research were a bit younger (Joey Votto, for example). However, Boras has numbers that suggest over-30 players are still key contributors, as well.

Jim Furtado Posted: January 20, 2018 at 07:50 AM | 25 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: economics, scott boras

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   1. FrankM Posted: January 20, 2018 at 10:04 AM (#5610011)
So the way to get better performance out of a player is to sign him to a six year contract?
   2. Jose is an Absurd Force of Nature Posted: January 20, 2018 at 10:43 AM (#5610013)
Say this for Boras, the man knows how to tell a story. I’d hire him in a heartbeat.
   3. eric Posted: January 20, 2018 at 10:43 AM (#5610014)
players who signed a six-year deal from 1998-2013 have averaged nearly 3.0 WAR per year (2.98), while players who signed three- or four-year deals from 2009-15 have averaged less than half that – 1.4 WAR.


How many players have signed exactly a six-year deal? And how much was paid for that performance?

Knowing nothing else other than those specifically cited stats, I'd say that's proof that the market is working pretty well at evaluating talent.
   4. Fancy Crazy Town Banana Pants Handle Posted: January 20, 2018 at 10:55 AM (#5610015)
According to Boras, players who signed a six-year deal from 1998-2013 have averaged nearly 3.0 WAR per year (2.98), while players who signed three- or four-year deals from 2009-15 have averaged less than half that – 1.4 WAR. Slightly different years were used, but you have to go back a little longer on six-year deals since you need longer lengths to get fair averages, and he’s including some non-free agents, which means a few long-term guys in his research were a bit younger (Joey Votto, for example).

Yeah, this doesn't sound like it was deliberately cherry-picked at all.
   5. TDF didn't lie, he just didn't remember Posted: January 20, 2018 at 11:11 AM (#5610016)
players who signed a six-year deal from 1998-2013 have averaged nearly 3.0 WAR per year (2.98), while players who signed three- or four-year deals from 2009-15 have averaged less than half that – 1.4 WAR.
Teams sign good players to longer contracts than players who aren't as good? That's unpossible!
   6. Zonk's Timely Epoch Posted: January 20, 2018 at 11:37 AM (#5610022)
One the problems with Boras' 'analysis' - such as it is - would seem to be that the average doesn't tell us the whole story.

Once upon a time, it was taken as a given that teams were basically signing these 6-7-whatever year big dollar deals with the inherent understanding that the back-end years functioned more or less as a signing bonus. Dead weight you accepted for the front-end value when you were presumably looking at a window to compete and the concept that interest-free, deferred salaries were a way to amortize what you pay for near-term value.

It's only logical that an increasingly analytics-driven MLB front office would start looking at whether it might be better to trim away dead weight and wasted resources -- begin toying with the idea that the old way may not have been the wrong way, but perhaps there is a better way.

It also helps that this FA class simply doesn't have anyone at the level who makes sense TO pay in such a fashion, especially when it looks likely that next year's FA class WILL.
   7. JRVJ Posted: January 20, 2018 at 12:33 PM (#5610034)
I, for one, am completely surprised that: 1. Scott Boras is of the opinion that his handling of his clients in the 2017-2018 FA market have had no negative effects on that FA market;

2.Scott Boras granted an interview to John Heyman.

What is the world coming to?
   8. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 20, 2018 at 12:35 PM (#5610035)
Say this for Boras, the man knows how to tell a story. I’d hire him in a heartbeat.

Except anyone with a modicum of critical thinking skills can see through his B in two seconds.

I think his con worked when you had lots of dumb money in the league, but not anymore. If I were a player, I much rather have a more realistic, less confrontational agent.

The gain from squeezing a $150M deal out of someone, vs. $125M, is just not worth the risk of having to settle for 1/15-20 in late February.
   9. Tin Angel Posted: January 20, 2018 at 12:40 PM (#5610038)
Say this for Boras, the man knows how to tell a story. I’d hire him in a heartbeat.


He has a very expensive computer. The best computer.
   10. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 20, 2018 at 12:43 PM (#5610039)
He has a very expensive computer. The best computer.

Is it beautiful?
   11. McCoy Posted: January 20, 2018 at 02:40 PM (#5610098)
And how many boras clients have had to settle for a one year 15 to 20 million dollar contract and they did so because they were holding out for a mere 25 million dollars? Boras clients get paid that's why he has clients.
   12. The Duke Posted: January 20, 2018 at 02:54 PM (#5610106)
There was a famous executive who’s catchphase was “don’t let the facts get in the way of a good story”. Boras lives that credo
   13. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: January 20, 2018 at 04:02 PM (#5610149)
Was Steven Drew a Boras client?
   14. Bote Man is no David Posted: January 20, 2018 at 04:27 PM (#5610164)
Boras is gonna up Sh|t's Creek when Old Man Lerner kicks the bucket.
   15. 6 - 4 - 3 Posted: January 20, 2018 at 04:40 PM (#5610169)
Was Steven Drew a Boras client?

Yes.
   16. Walt Davis Posted: January 20, 2018 at 07:01 PM (#5610248)
An average of 3 WAR a year for a 6 year contract is ... wait for it ... 18 WAR. Coincidentally, that's pretty much what a slightly optimistic projection for JD Martinez spits out.

It's only logical that an increasingly analytics-driven MLB front office would start looking at whether it might be better to trim away dead weight and wasted resources -- begin toying with the idea that the old way may not have been the wrong way, but perhaps there is a better way.

Sure but that doesn't seem to be what's happening. If we do take JDM's projection at 15-18 WAR and figure 12-15 of that is coming in the first 3 years ... then a team would be rocking up with a 3/$100-110 offer ... and I'd imagine JDM would say "yes, thank you." Equally, once the team is up to 3/$100-110, there's little risk in going 5/$125 with the sometimes useful advantage of reducing the short-term lux tax impacts. But sure, maybe there are advantages to not restricting available payroll in years 4-5 especially if you aren't pushing the lux tax boundary anyway in years 1-3.

Not that we can actually tell but it seems it's more along the lines of "we want one less year at the same AAV." Which is not necessarily "wrong" in the case of JDM -- $125 vs $150 (or $150 vs $180) is real money and is a question of is he gonna produce 15 WAR, 18 WAR or 20 WAR over the next 5-6 years. I'd be pretty willing to do 5/$125 but I'd certainly have to be pretty confident in 20 WAR to go for 6/$180 ... and I'm not confident in that at all. 6/$150 is a "reasonable" compromise between those two but I'd be holding the line if I was Boston too.

As I've mentioned elsewhere ... all depending on how it's structured. I could see something like 28/28/23/23/23 (total $125) with an opt-out after year 2 -- if he does really well, good luck to his next team (which might still be mine); if he tanks I'm no more screwed than I would be anyway. Or something like 6/$165 with enough deferments to bring it down to 5/$140 might be something I'd consider.

So I'm not sure it's anything more than the fundamental difference that Boston wants a contract priced around 15 WAR at $8-9 per WAR while Boras/JDM want one priced around 18 WAR at $9-10 per WAR. Conveniently enough, 16.5 WAR at $9 works out to 148.5. Regardless, until JDM has two legit offers, there's no reason for Boston to increase its offer.
   17. ptodd Posted: January 20, 2018 at 07:15 PM (#5610251)
According to Fan Graphs WAR value at 8.5 million last year and projected to be 9 million in 2018 and 9.5 million in 2019. The average over a 6 year deal could be 10 million. If he puts up 3, 3, 3, 2.5, 2, 1.5 WAR he should make close to 150 million. Assuming no payroll inflation then 125 million. Collusion if it exists may have teams betting on the latter despite the fact revenue growth is projected to be robust
   18. Walt Davis Posted: January 20, 2018 at 07:20 PM (#5610256)
On Drew ... well, Drew's alternative to going on the market was to take the 1-year QO. He wasn't holding out for 6/$150 with 5/$125 on the table. As it was, he signed shortly after opening day for the pro-rated QO so he barely turned out any worse than if he'd taken the QO. What we don't know is if Drew passed on something like 3/$36 thinking he could do better. He still pulled down another $12 M over the last 3 years so as downsides go, that's not too shabby -- and imagine how much he might have made if he hadn't sucked in 2014.

On Boras' "analysis" -- yes, it's silly. But it does point out the decision teams are faced with. Do you want to sign the Jay Bruce type over the next 3 years and collect your 4 WAR or do you want to sign the JDM type for 5-6 years and collect 12-15 WAR over the next 3 years, then your measly 4 WAR over the last 3? Jay Bruce keeps you from having a complete hole in your lineup, JDM (potentially) pushes you towards the playoffs. It is kinda true the Red Sox don't have good alternatives either -- keep trotting out Hanley and Moreland and a 4th OF for 1600 PA and 3 WAR or replace (hopefully) 600-650 of those PA and add 3-4 wins? (not 4 wins vs 3 wins but 4 wins + 2-3 wins depending on how well you spot the other guys)

Still, I kinda like Moustakas as a fallback for the Red Sox. Rotate him, Devers and Pedroia among 2B/3B, have Moose (or Devers, depending on defense) take some of the DH PAs, and he can replace Moreland next year if his defense declines or you need to find more PT for Devers.
   19. 6 - 4 - 3 Posted: January 20, 2018 at 07:46 PM (#5610273)
Moustakas would cost draft picks though.

In terms of the WAR analysis, at least for 2018, Martinez isn't replacing a replacement-level player, or at least not one projected as such. The difference in 2018 projections between the two is somewhere around 1-1.5 wins. Given the Red Sox place on the win curve, that extra win or so is valuable, but is it $25M+ per year valuable? And that's without getting into the inherent risk of having a player like Martinez under contract for his 30s.

Teams don't make acquisition decisions in a vacuum, they need to consider the particular situation of their clubs. A simple "$/WAR" analysis has limited usefulness, IMHO.

If I were the Red Sox, I'd see how Ramirez looks at DH and then make a midseason acquisition if he's terrible. Or grab something out of the 2018 FA bargain bin that doesn't require a multiyear, nine-figure commitment and see what you can acquire in the 2018-19 off-season.
   20. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: January 20, 2018 at 08:21 PM (#5610277)
What we don't know is if Drew passed on something like 3/$36 thinking he could do better.


He did. At least if we can believe Joel Sherman, Drew was holding out for 4 or 5 years.
   21. McCoy Posted: January 20, 2018 at 08:36 PM (#5610278)
I believe Sherman claimed that Drew was offered a two or three year deal by the Yankees and he would have to at least play third during jeters last season. Yankees offered a one year deal the year before for Drew to play third and he turned it down. Drew never formally turned down the Yankees multi-year offer in 2014. The Yankees rescinded after they spent a buttload of money on free agents that offseason
   22. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: January 20, 2018 at 08:59 PM (#5610286)
Yes, it is also true that Drew wanted to sign with a team that planned to start him at SS.
   23. Walt Davis Posted: January 21, 2018 at 04:35 PM (#5610464)
Hanley has been below-replacement in 2 of the last 3 years. The fg projection of 1.2 WAR seems optimistic. His Marcel OPS+ is about 105 which is replacement level for a DH. Moreover, I did include a bit on this in the second post -- Hanley is part of that 3 WAR you're likely to get out of him, Moreland and a 4th OF. Steamer projects about .9 for Hanley, 1.1 for Moreland so now I'm assuming they can find a 4th OF that puts up 1 WAR in about 400 PA. Or they can get 4-5 WAR out of JDM plus 2 WAR out of 1000 PA of Hanley, Moreland and a 4th/5th OF (presumably JDM getting most of the 4th OF PAs if they keep Hanley).

If we believe Steamer, JDM projects to just 2.3 WAR in year 1 of this deal. (Or an fg projection of 2.7) If we believe that projection, we can end the debate between 5/$125 and 6/$150 by concluding we were morons for asking the question in the first place. Heck, Steamer projects Hosmer to be better.
   24. ptodd Posted: January 21, 2018 at 08:03 PM (#5610642)
What to do about the unsigned FA? Let them form two teams and get admitted to each league. Each player gets equity in team and the team is entitled to MLB revenue sharing which they distribute as salaries. All games are played on the road and they get 50% of attendance revenue in half the games where they bat last.

One teams name can be Unwanted Players, and the other Homeless Players. MLB will have to scramble to redo schedules though.
   25. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: January 22, 2018 at 06:49 AM (#5610755)
That’s the sort of original and creative thinking baseball needs if it wants to move behind its myopic approaches to interfering with player compensation.

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