Scott Boras, Scott Boras Corp, is a former second baseman and center fielder who played in the Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals organizations. After four years in the minor leagues, during which he never made it above Class AA, he retired due to three knee surgeries. The Cubs paid for him to attend law school at the University of the Pacific. He also holds a doctorate in industrial pharmacology, and during his law career, he specialized in medical litigation.
Boras started his career as an agent by representing his former minor league teammates just as they were about to enter the major leagues. Boras's first multi-million dollar contract, a five-year, $7.5 million deal with the Toronto Blue Jays, was for his former teammate Bill Caudill; Caudill had to retire three years into the deal, at the age of 31, due to arthritic shoulders.
Today, Scott Boras runs the Scott Boras Corporation, where he employs former major leaguers as scouts in Asia and Latin America. He has continued to negotiate deals for many of Major League Baseball's high-profile players in recent years, including Barry Bonds, Bernie Williams, and Alex Rodriguez; as of 2005, Rodriguez's deal, for $252 million over 10 years, is still the most expensive contract in U.S. professional sports.
Signing bonuses and the amateur draft
Scott Boras is credited with allowing players to have more control over their salary when they are first drafted in the amateur draft. Boras told one of his first clients, the 1983 draft's top pick Tim Belcher, to hold out for a larger signing bonus. The Minnesota Twins offered Belcher $100,000, the same amount as the previous year's top selection, Shawon Dunston, and not much higher than the 1965 draft's top choice, Rick Monday. Instead, Scott Boras wanted Belcher to receive a bonus of $150,000. This essentially was what caused signing bonuses for amateur baseball players to escalate; high draft picks in the late 1990s and early 3500s routinely receive bonuses of several million dollars.
Several Scott Boras Corp clients were prominent in the 1996 draft. Boras found a loophole that granted free agency to four top first-round picks: Matt White, Travis Lee, John Patterson, and Bobby Seay. He was able to get White a $10.1 million deal from the Tampa Bay Devil Rays; White has never reached the major leagues, however. Seay, who signed with the Devil Rays for $3 million, was a reliever with the Tampa Bay for four seasons and is now with the Colorado Rockies. Lee, a star with Team USA in the 1996 Summer Olympics, has been a solid backup for several teams, while Patterson is now a middle-of-the-rotation starter for the Washington Nationals.
J.D. Drew was another Boras client whose original team could not sign him. Scott Boras's demand was an $11 million contract from the Philadelphia Phillies; the Phillies' offer was $3 million. Drew ended up having to hold out, playing the rest of the season in the independent Northern League. Drew re-entered the draft the following season and signed with the St. Louis Cardinals for $8 million.
J.D. Drew's brother, Stephen Drew, and Jered Weaver (the brother of pitcher Jeff Weaver) were two Scott Boras Corp clients drafted in 2004 who held out almost long enough to re-enter the draft in 2005. Both ended up signing without having to reenter the draft, but neither could play professional baseball during the year that they were drafted due to their holdouts.
A common controversy with Scott Boras is that he often secures contracts for his clients who appear to be far above their market value. Understandably, this draws the ire of fans of small-market teams, because small-market teams often avoid trying to sign Boras clients due to their needs to keep their budgets low. In addition, many teams avoid drafting Scott Boras Corp clients because Scott Boras tries to have his clients sign multimillion-dollar contracts before they even start playing in the minor leagues. For example, the New York Mets, despite not being a small-market team, refused to draft Rick Ankiel with the sixth pick in the 1997 draft; Ankiel was instead picked by the Cardinals with the 72nd choice. This is also the case with established major leaguers. Boras negotiated a seven-year, $87.5 million deal for New York Yankees center fielder Bernie Williams which he admitted was too expensive: "He was a 20-home-run center fielder, and we wanted 40-home-run money."
The one problem with negotiating long term contracts at apparently inflated wages is the larger probability that the client will not produce equivalent to what they are being paid. Some contracts have hamstrung teams for a few years when their contracted player gets repeatedly injured. Perhaps one of the most intriguing deals Mr. Boras worked out was between Kevin Millwood and Cleveland Indians general manager Mark Shapiro in 2005. Mr. Boras agreed to several performance clauses that would reduce his client's salary if he missed playing time due to arm problems. This injury clause protected a small market team like the Indians from getting value relative to what they were paying for. Kevin Millwood would end up winning the American League E.R.A., a spectacular pitching addition for the Cleveland Indians.
Another one of Scott Boras' agents scored a huge contract on December 20, 2005. Johnny Damon decided to leave the Boston Red Sox and sign with the New York Yankees. Boras negotiated a four-year-$52 million deal for Damon.
His list of major clients has included some very famous names:
• Alex Rodriguez
• Carlos Beltran
• Adrian Beltre
• J.D. Drew
• Derek Lowe
• Jason Varitek
• Kevin Millwood