How is this possible?

Reader MooseinOhio hips me to an amazing post from Boston.com’s Buzz blog:

According to NESN’s Red Sox reporter Heidi Watney, free-agent catcher Jason Varitek said he was not aware that teams would have to surrender a No. 1 draft pick in order to sign him and he takes full responsibility for his decision to turn down salary arbitration from the Red Sox . . .

. . . “Varitek told me he wasn’t aware that teams would have to give up draft picks now in addition to paying him and that’s something that definitely cost him and he takes full responsibility for that,” according to Watney. “He doesn’t blame Boras for that.”

None of that makes any sense, so let’s unpack it:

Possibility #1: Boras didn’t tell Varitek about the consequences of the Sox offering him arbitration.

Likelihood: low

Consequence: extreme malpractice

Comment: There’s no way Boras doesn’t know about the compensation rule and there’s no way he doesn’t hip his client to it. Boras is a lot of things, but a dummy isn’t one of them, and he’d have to know that he’d be sued six ways from Sunday if he failed to provide his client with critical information like this.

Possibility #2: Boras told Varitek about the consequences of the Sox offering him arbitration, but Varitek misunderstood or ignored it.

Likelihood: moderate

Consequence: the loss of millions of dollars Varitek would have received in arbitration.

Comment: This scenario is what is implied by the article. As Moose noted to me, however, “Varitek is one of the most prepared and knowledgeable catchers in the game, so are we really to expect that he cannot translate that talent to his contract circumstance and know all the nuances of how the process works? And if he cannot – what does that say about him?”

Possibility #3: Boras told Varitek about the consequences of the Sox offering him arbitration and Varitek understood it, but they agreed to throw the dice anyway believing that they could sucker the Sox or someone else into giving him a multi-year deal, that failed, and now they’re backtracking.

Likelihood: off the charts

Consequence: A low dollar pity deal from the Sox because they knew exactly what Boras and Varitek are doing and read the market way better than they did.

Comment: This is classic Boras, no? I can almost see the conversation in which he tells Varitek that, if it doesn’t work, he’ll take the PR hit so that Sox fans don’t have any ill-will towards the captain. As soon as the conversation was over, of course, Boras had Varitek sign an acknowledgment or waiver regarding these facts. As we speak, said waiver is probably sitting in the safe next to A-Rod’s waiver regarding the consequences of his opt-out and Pedro Alvarez’s waiver about the signing deadline shenanigans.

At least that’s my guess as to what happened. Anyone have a better one?

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Comments

  1. The Common Man said...

    No, that’s a pretty good rundown, Craig.  I find it interesting that only one of the pair (of Varitek and Boras) is talking about this presumed lie, essentially preserving the other’s credibility for future negotiations.

    Here’s a question, is there a date at which a team signing Varitek will not have to forfeit its first round pick?  Or do the compensation rules extend into the season?

    http://www.the-common-man.com

  2. kimbo said...

    wouldn’t you expect all veterans who have been around as long as Varitek to just know about the compensation rule anyway, regardless of whether or not their agent has explained it to them?  I feel like if I know the rule, then he probably would, since its more useful information for him and he at the very least knows a lot of people who have been through this process.

  3. Howell said...

    Kimbo, I think this is kind of like the Donovan McNabb thing. We as fans care WAY more about the details then the players. I mean how many times has Tek actually really had to think about the free agent process? According to Baseball Reference he’s only been a free agent once. I am beating that when players talk about free agency they talk about things like:

    1) Best team to play for
    2) Money
    3) Number of years
    4) Proximity to home
    5) Life style in said city
    6) No trade clauses

    and that’s probably about it. It seems unlike they think about the compensation system or how dumb the Elias rankings are.

  4. Rob said...

    Count me down for a combination of #2 and #3.  My guess is that Varitek was informed of the draft-pick compensation, but that he was inclined to believe that teams would ignore that cost when considering signing him.

    Boras probably understood the cost much better than Varitek, as people have pointed out earlier.  I mean, for a major-leaguer what’s a draft pick?  If General Managers can’t properly evaluate draft picks, what makes anyone think that a guy who willingly stands in front of home plate waiting to get knocked over by a 200-pound block of bone and muscle traveling at top speed is going to figure it out?

    Also remember that Varitek is a guy who held out when he was drafted and missed a year based on his agent’s advice.  If anything, Boras is sweet-talking his client about a fat multi-year deal like Posada got, and the ballplayer took those words to heart.

  5. APBA Guy said...

    I do think Boras steered the conversation towards the upside of a multi year deal outweighing the downside of a 1 year, player/coach kind of thing. But you don’t see GM’s making the quantity of mistakes they used to make with respect to aging players who’s numbers are on an express elevator, heading down.

  6. The Common Man said...

    @ Rob

    That was a long time ago that he held out.  And I think that, given the same opportunity, many of us might have done the same thing.  When you think about it, the only opportunity many draft picks have to set their own price is their signing bonus.  After that, the team sets their salary in the minors (at least for six years) and then the players aren’t in control for the first six years in the majors.  If I get one chance to get a guaranteed payday in 12 years, I would take it.  Especially when Varitek had some leverage.  He didn’t sit out, he went back to GA Tech for his senior season.  As big a Twins fan as I am, I can’t really find fault with what Varitek did as a 21 year old kid, 15 years ago.

    http://www.the-common-man.com

  7. pete said...

    We’ve never really heard a peep from a disgruntled former Boras client, at least as far as I can remember. He sometimes gets tossed under the bus to save a client’s reputation (ARod), but if a player were actually upset with the way negotiations were handled, we’d most certainly hear about it…especially in Boras’ case, since anti-Boras articles basically write themselves.

    My guess: Varitek will eventually get a contract from the Red Sox and we’ll never hear anything more about this, which will tell us that Boras did nothing wrong.

  8. Ron said...

    When acts of evil doing are committed, people often claim it is the work of the devil. By conclusion, you can state that the devil is the architect of most evil.

    I’m not saying Boras is the devil, but he seems to be involved in a lot of acts of evil doing.

  9. MooseinOhio said...

    My sense is that Varitek misread the market partly because he believed what Boras was preaching about his value to other teams.  Maybe Boras needed to have a more honest conversation with the soon to be 37 yo who had a miserable offensive season but Varitek also needs to understand the market process. 

    The relationship is a two way street and while I have never negotiated a major league contract before I have negotiated contracts (e.g., jobs, real estate) and I hired folks who presented realistic pictures of the market.  On several occasions what I heard was not what I wanted to hear but instead was what I needed to hear and I valued their opinions and made informed decisions.

    We all chuckle when Boras tries to make the argument that Oliver Perez is one of the top five lefty pitcher and we all see it as a ploy on his part to get the highest dollar value contract.  However part of his fiduciary obligation is to help his client read the market properly and help them make well informed decisions.  If Oliver Perez wants to dilute himself on the Boras punch part of his drunken state is his fault but part is Boras’ fault for developing and serving the drink in the first place. 

    I guess I was surprised to read this morning that Varitek was unaware of how the process worked in regard to his circumstance and suspect, as Craig wrote, that he did and made a major miscalculation.  However why share it?  What is the value of such a revelation?  Now I see him is a less appealing light and maybe as a bit of a punch drunk that had one too many at Boras’ place.

  10. Ron B said...

    Are you all gonna let Craig get away with using the word ‘hip’ twice in the same article???

    How old ARE you Craig?

  11. pete said...

    Moose:
    If Varitek really feels like he was misled by Boras, we’ll hear about it over the next couple of months (and not just in the “kiss and make up” period surrounding when he signs his contract, as was the case with ARod).

    How about this scenario:
    Boras and Varitek have a talk about his value, weighing the pluses and minuses of accepting arbitration. Varitek, a star athlete with a (presumably) huge ego who has already made about $60M in his career, simply chooses to gamble a few million for the chance that some idiot team offers him the 3/$30M contract he thinks he deserves.

    Of course Boras should’ve been cautioning him that that type of money isn’t out there this year, and he probably was, which is why we won’t hear anything more than a token diss of Boras when Varitek finally resigns with the Red Sox.

    I’m not sure why everyone assumes that Boras is some kind of wizard that has these players under a spell. It defies logic, and frankly it shocks me that so many (normally) rational people so eagerly jump on the “poor Player X, tricked by Boras” train.

  12. Craig Calcaterra said...

    @Ron B:  wow, I hadn’t realized that I used “hip” as a verb twice.  I mean, we used to do that all the time back in the late 40s, but most of us gave it up when that Kerouac fella’ started exploiting us in his books.

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