Philadelphia general manager Ruben Amaro, Jr. and super-agent Scott Boras are having a skirmish of words regarding the Phillies’ non-signing of closer Ryan Madson. Boras seems to be saying the Phillies reneged on their offer of $44 million over four years, while Amaro says, “there never was an agreement.”
Obviously, since Madson is now a Cincinnati Red, Amaro is correct that there never was an agreement—at least not one so formal that it led to a signed contract. However, there may have been a verbal agreement, a handshake deal, a nod-and-wink, nudge-nudge, say-no-more pact that simply needed to be put to paper and submitted to Major League Baseball’s offices for confirmation.
Or there may not have been. If we read exactly what Boras said, it becomes clear that he did not say that he and the Phillies had agreed to a four-year, $44 million contract.
Boras first stated, “We never rejected any offer from Philadelphia at four years and $44 million. We advised Philadelphia that we would agree to such a proposal.” He followed that comment up with, “We agreed to a four-year, $44 million offer, and Philadelphia decided to sign someone else.”
Let’s take a look at the first sentence. While he and Madson never rejected the contract in dispute, Boras didn’t say the Phillies made such an offer. You can’t reject an offer that isn’t made, so Boras may not be lying. Also, “never rejected” is not the same as “accepted.”
His second sentence says they would have taken such a deal. Hey, so would I, but no one made me such an offer and, again, maybe the Phillies didn’t make one to Boras for Madson’s services.
The last sentence uses “we” vaguely. Which “we” agreed to the four-year, $44 million contract he mentions? It could be that “we” is Boras and Madson. Perhaps those two men decided between themselves that such an offer would be acceptable. Good for them, but if the Phillies never tendered such a deal, there was nothing for Boras to accept.
Scott Boras obviously is a phenomenally successful agent. He has made his clients billions of dollars and himself a nice cut of those salaries. He produces gold-lettered, platinum-laced, diamond-encrusted binders to demonstrate how clients such as Alex Rodriguez and Prince Fielder are the greatest athletes in the history of the universe and should be paid like minor deities. Boras does his job extraordinarily well.
But his success does not come from blunt directness. It comes from deception, obfuscation and borderline flat-out lying. Boras knows where that borderline is, and he has no fear of going up to it and nudging his toes right up against that line. It’s what he gets paid so well to do.