Scott Boras and the San Diego Padres

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Credit: USA Today Sports

Uber agent Scott Boras has been generally off-limits to the San Diego Padres since he became a player agent in the early 1980s. The son of a dairy farmer, he’s orchestrated contract after contract, which has taken his clients to heights never imagined. The Boras Corporation has more than 100 clients and a net worth of $3.83 billion. Only recently have the Padres played in the Boras Corporation’s league.

A walk-on at the University of the Pacific, Boras led the school’s baseball team with a .312 average in 1972 and was voted into the Pacific Athletics Hall of Fame in 1995. After graduating, he played minor league ball in the Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals organizations. However, a knee injury shortened his career.

Boras returned to UOP and earned a Doctor of Pharmacy degree in 1977 and a Juris Doctor degree (from UOP’s McGeorge School of Law) in 1982. By that time, Boras had decided to become an agent for minor and major league baseball players. Early on, he demonstrated an ability to convince teams to pay top dollar. His clients have included stars like Greg Maddux (five years 28 million 1992), Kevin Brown (seven years $105 million 1998), and Alex Rodriguez (10 years $252 million 2000).

Brown helped the Padres reach the World Series in 1998, and the team obviously wanted to keep him. However, the Los Angeles Dodgers swept in and agreed to Boras’ offer for Brown. He became the first $100 million+ player in Major League Baseball.

Until A. J. Preller took over as general manager for the Padres, the team generally stayed clear of Boras. However, in 2018 the Padres became the only bidder for 28-year-old first baseman Eric Hosmer and offered him an eight-year $144 million contract. Just months earlier, Preller had signed Wil Myers, also a first baseman, to a six-year $83 million deal.

At the time, Dave Cameron, then with FanGraphs, considered a contract worth $80 to $90 million could be justified. But he also cautioned that once a team passed “either of those marks, they’re very likely to be better off just signing one of the cheaper first basemen and throwing the difference at another quality free agent.” Ironically, Preller hired Cameron shortly after he made those comments. However, he has since moved on.

(Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images)

Hosmer brought four Gold Gloves to San Diego, but his defense proved to be sub-par. According to FanGraphs, at first base, he’s totaled -21 DRS and -.35.8 UZR. Although popular with teammates, the front office was determined to move Hosmer. But the Padres found no takers before this year. After refusing a trade to the Washington Nationals (one of 10 teams he could block) in the trade for Juan Soto, Hosmer agreed to go to the Boston Red Sox in August. Four days ago, the Red Sox designated him for assignment, leaving the Padres stuck with the $44 million remaining.

However, the Hosmer experience didn’t deter Preller from adding another pricey Boras client, Xander Bogaert. As was the case with first baseman Hosmer, the Padres do not need a shortstop. In fact, the team already faces a dilemma upon Fernando Tatis Jr.’s return in early April 2023. Who would man short, Tatis Jr. or Ha-Seong Kim, who had ably replaced him the past two years?

It wasn’t that long ago that Tatis Jr. signed a contract worth $340 million over 14 years. Add Bogaert’s $280 million over 11 years, and the Padres have tied up two shortstops worth a total of $620 million (not counting Kim’s $28 million, four-year contract).  However, MVP Sports Group, not Boras, negotiated Tatis Jr.’s  $340 million contract as well as Manny Machado’s $300 million deal.

Until recently, the Padres haven’t had the big bucks to play in Boras’ league. In 2017 San Diego ranked 28th in payroll but has since moved up rapidly. Team owner Peter Seidler obviously wants to win and has given Preller a long leash. According to spotrac’s payroll estimates for the 2023 season, the Padres rank fourth behind the New York Mets, New York Yankees, and Philadelphia Phillies.

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In their dealings with Scott Boras, the Padres obviously overpaid Eric Hosmer. Bogaerts’ contract dwarfs Hosmer’s, but his bat could provide what the Padres have been missing–offense. In Boston this year, he batted .307/.377/.456, wRC+ 134.

Thanks to the addition of Bogaerts, manager Bob Melvin, among others, will have difficult decisions to make regarding Fernando Tatis Jr. and Ha-Seong Kim. Kim’s defense will be missed, as Bogaerts DRS of -50 and OAA of -34 does not inspire confidence. The length of the contract (11 years) and a no-trade clause cause concern as Bogaerts will be 42 at its end.

Of course, a World Series title obliterates concerns over contracts and defensive prowess, and dealing with uber agent Scott Boras.

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