Spring training is almost here, and yet four of the biggest free agents who were available this offseason are still on the market. As it happens, the four players are all represented by baseball super-agent Scott Boras.
Pitchers and catchers begin reporting to various facilities as early as Friday, and somehow Blake Snell, Matt Chapman, Cody Bellinger, and Jordan Montgomery all remain unsigned. Not only that, it would appear as though nothing is imminent with any of the four names.
While this wouldn't be the first time one of Boras' clients has waited this long before signing a deal, he typically doesn't make a habit of hanging in silence. After all, the longer this goes on, especially for the pitchers, the less likely it is that the players in question will be ready to begin the upcoming season on time. Is Boras finally losing his cache?
Is Scott Boras finally losing his pull with owners during 2024 free agency mess?
Suggesting that Boras is losing his stranglehold on the industry that he helped build might seem a little harsh, but there was a time when general managers and owners approached one of his clients knowing they were going to get taken for a ride. But that was just the cost of doing business with the Boras Corporation, as he oftentimes represents some of the best players in the game.
Maybe it's not so much the agent as it is the players he represents. Sure, Blake Snell has two Cy Young Awards, but he also led the league in walks last season. Cody Bellinger is a former Rookie of the Year and MVP, but he also couldn't hit water if he fell out of boat over his final three years with the Los Angeles Dodgers. From 2020-2022, Bellinger posted a slash line of .203/.272/.376.
Jordan Montgomery stepped up during the postseason, but the strikeout numbers are not impressive, and very few teams would consider the left-hander an ace. Matt Chapman is a glove-first third baseman with a collective .743 OPS over the past three seasons.
Blake Snell, Cody Bellinger, Jordan Montgomery, and Matt Chapman are flawed
None of these four are "bad" players, but they're certainly not elite. Aside from Snell, the last time any of these players went to the All-Star Game was back in 2019. Montgomery has yet to appear in the Midsummer Classic.
GMs and other baseball executives are getting wise to Boras' charade. Look at the massive amount of payroll the San Diego Padres, New York Yankees, and New York Mets doled out in 2023. The top three highest payrolls in baseball didn't sniff the postseason a year ago. That's not suggest that teams are unwilling to spend money or that they should avoid spending top-dollar in order to acquire the best players available, but these four players that Boras represents are not top-tier players, and therefore, they're not going to get big-money deals.
The Yankees reportedly offered Snell a six-year, $150 million contract, only to see him turn it down. Chapman seems like a shoo-in to land with his old manager Bob Melvin in San Francisco. Why hasn't it happened yet?
Who knows how many times the Chicago Cubs have reached out the Boras about bringing Bellinger back to Wrigley Field? Montgomery seems like the perfect for the Boston Red Sox, and while the fault may not lie with Boras on that one, it would seem that the two sides could find some sort of common ground while the left-hander resides in their backyard this offseason.
In an episode of the television show The Office, while negotiating with his former boss, Michael Scott told David Wallace, "I don't think I need to wait out Dunder Mifflin, I think I just have to wait out you." That's what these clubs are doing - they're waiting out Scott Boras. What remains to be seen is whether or not Boras will eventually relent.