Boras defends himself and MLBPA leadership amid power struggle

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Thursday, March 21, 2024

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Agent Scott Boras defended himself and the leadership of the Major League Baseball Players Association against a faction pushing to replace the union's lead negotiator.

"When you have inexperienced people who haven't been doing this for a long time, they make statements that are just not supported by facts," Boras said Wednesday after a news conference held by the San Francisco Giants to introduce pitcher Blake Snell, one of his clients.

During an online meeting Monday, players pushed for union executive director Tony Clark to remove deputy executive director Bruce Meyer, who led talks for the 2022 collective bargaining agreement.

Some in the group pushing for change want to replace Meyer with Harry Marino, who helped minor leaguers organize and join the players' association in late 2022. Marino was hired for the union staff in September 2022, helped reach the first minor league labor contract with Major League Baseball, then left last July.

"The players who sought me out want a union that represents the will of the majority," Marino said in a statement. "Scott Boras is rich because he makes -- or used to make -- the richest players in the game richer."

Marino added that it was "alarming" for Boras to be defending Clark and Meyer.

Boras, the sport's most high-profile agent, backed the union's leadership.

"Veteran players have not been approached on this," he said. "You don't see guys who have been through a couple of collective bargaining agreements or guys who've served on the executive board. None of them are supportive of this."

After minor leaguers joined the union, it restructured its executive board to include 38 players with major league contracts and 34 with minor league contracts. The executive board makes decisions by majority vote, such as hiring the executive director, and the staff reports to the executive director.

Some players have expressed concern over a drop in club spending this offseason. Several teams that traditionally spend big have not, some because of a high luxury tax payroll and tax rate, and others have been concerned over regional sports network revenue following the bankruptcy filing of Diamond Sports' Bally Networks.

"All of our models have predicted there are market lulls after spending," Boras said. "We've had two years where they've spent $3.5 (billion) to $4 billion. Usually in a five-year model, we're going to see ownership use that in their consideration.

"We also look at the idea of the demand. These are $30 million players. How many teams are really going to be involved (for a Cy Young or MVP player)? That is a small group of owners. It's not about 30 teams, it's about five or six."

Marino responded Wednesday with more criticism of Boras.

"It is concerning that Scott Boras is taking responsibility for aspects of the last major league CBA," he wrote in a statement to The Associated Press. "It is more concerning that he is referring to himself, Tony Clark and Bruce Meyer as 'we' and major league baseball players as 'them.' At this point, the MLBPA should make all communications between the union and Scott public."

Several of Boras' clients remained on the market well into spring training, and pitcher Jordan Montgomery and designated hitter J.D. Martinez remain without deals.

Three failed to get long-term agreements that had been speculated and accepted shorter deals that allow them to opt out and again become free agents: Snell struck a $62 million, two-year contract with the Giants and third baseman Matt Chapman a $54 million, three-year agreement. Outfielder Cody Bellinger reached an $80 million, three-year deal with the Chicago Cubs.

During the negotiations in 2022, MLB and the union agreed to $50 million bonus pool for pre-arbitration players, incentivized prospect promotion with the possibility of additional amateur draft picks, raised luxury tax thresholds while agreeing to a new fourth tax rate as high as 110% and lifted the minimum salary. Management dropped its proposal to eliminate salary arbitration.

"The right of free agency for mid-level players is there for them. I've had a number of pitchers in their 30s who have very good contracts because the demand for pitching is great," Boras said.

Over the longer term, Boras didn't think the luxury tax will prevent clubs from pursuing players they desire.

"Revenues are also going up to support the payment of the tax. So it doesn't affect profitability or the net gain because there is significant revenue," he said.

The bonus pool was a key. About 100 players received pool money in each of the last two offseasons.

"We created a $50 million pool for them that didn't exist before, and the arbitration right has been preserved. Any of those players can seek any value they so desire," Boras said. "Having those rights is the best thing you can do in any system.

Boras was optimistic about finding deals for Montgomery and Martinez.

"Thirty-three homers in 113 games, who does that? And Monty has three years of being durable, playoff winner, he has the full resume of excellence that you want, and no draft picks when you sign him," he said. "This is like the perfect free agent."