'Boras Factor' has limited impact
Agents' clients have effect on decisions, just not in big way
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Coming into the first day of this First-Year Player Draft, there was an assumption made. Any analysis of the first day of the draft would undoubtedly be about how the "Boras Factor" would wreak havoc on the first round and beyond.
Agent Scott Boras was the advisor for a half-dozen amateur players perceived to at least have a chance to be first-round selections: Julio Borbon, Andrew Brackman, Matt Harvey, Mike Moustakas, Rick Porcello and Matt Wieters. There was no question that with so many elite players advised by the Boras Corporation, things would be completely out of whack in the early going.
It didn't entirely work out that way.
That's not to say there wasn't any impact. Matt Harvey, who partially slid because of performance and largely because of signability concerns, didn't go until the end of the third round, to the Angels. Julio Borbon's status was hurt early on by an ankle injury, but still figured to be a first-rounder by many. He ended up going in the compensation round, to the Rangers. Porcello, long considered to be the No. 2 pick in the draft, plummeted all the way to pick No. 27 and the Detroit Tigers. Brackman went with the final selection of the first round to the Yankees, but there's some elbow issues that contributed to his slide as much as anything else.
So the Boras presence was felt in some of those instances. But, interestingly, two of his clients went in the top five picks. The Kansas City Royals, who passed on Porcello because of the signability issue, instead went with another Boras guy in Moustakas. Wieters, the top college bat in the draft class, didn't slide at all, going No. 5 to the Baltimore Orioles, a bit of a surprise entrant into the Boras negotiating process.
"The Boras factor had something to do with [Porcello] because he was a high school guy and his price tag was very high for a high school pitcher," said one scouting director who passed on the Seton Hall Prep standout. "That's why Porcello and Harvey fell. Moustakas, a bat guy with less of a chance of breaking down, went up high.
"Wieters and Moustakas went where they were supposed to go. Brackman, because of his performance and injury possibility, went fairly reasonably. The fact it didn't play up to the level it could have, I think the talent level of those players superseded the agent factor."
That started with the No. 2 overall pick. It looked like, up until this morning, the Royals would pass on two Boras players instead of just one and would take Josh Vitters with their pick. But after lengthy discussions with the Moustakas camp, the decision was made to forge ahead and take the guy they really wanted once they realized Porcello wasn't a feasible option.
"We went into it with the approach that we wanted to take the best player," Royals scouting director Deric Ladnier said. "We feel strongly the player wants to go play through the relationship we have with the family. All indications are he wants to go play. Hopefully, it will be a rational, reasonable negotiations and we can get him going."
The Orioles mirrored those sentiments. While Kansas City at least has the experience of negotiating with Boras over last year's No. 1 overall pick, Luke Hochevar, the O's have no such history. In fact, if someone was going to pick a team to be the least likely to take a Boras guy, Baltimore would be at or near the top of the list. Yet the Orioles plunged into unchartered waters by taking who they felt was the best player for them on the board. They mirrored Ladnier's sentiments in that they feel their selection might not be quite as difficult to sign as initially anticipated.
"We'll see once we get into it," said Mike Flanagan, Baltimore's executive vice president of baseball operations. "The idea is to get the player and get him signed. These things tend to take time. We'll have that Aug. 15 deadline, so it may be a little speedier than maybe it's been in the past."
"It took this long for somebody to bring up his name," Orioles scouting director Joe Jordan said. "Obviously, we got past that. We've had a lot of discussion. I've spoken with the Boras corporation, and obviously [vice president of baseball operations] Jim [Duquette] and Mike have, as well. ... We feel like at the end of the day, this guy's out playing and he's going to be part of the history here."
The flip side of that, of course, is Porcello. On talent, he belonged up with Moustakas and Wieters. But perceived bonus demands pushed him to the end of the first round. The Tigers, who showed they were willing to shift gears quickly and take a possible signability risk when they drafted Andrew Miller last year, couldn't let Porcello go any further.
"I think what you do is you evaluate the board as you go," Tigers scouting director David Chadd said. "Going into the day, if you told me Rick Porcello would be the pick at 27, I'd say there'd be a chance, but I wouldn't have expected it. You make a decision on what's best for your organization and your staff. He was the best player on the board at the time and that was our pick.
|1. TB||LHP||David Price||Vanderbilt U|
|2. KC||SS||Michael Moustakas||Chatsworth HS (Calif.)|
|3. CHC||3B||Josh Vitters||Cypress HS (Calif.)|
|4. PIT||LHP||Daniel Moskos||Clemson U|
|5. BAL||C||Matthew Wieters||Georgia Tech|
|6. WSH||LHP||Ross Detwiler||Missouri St U|
|7. MIL||LF||Matthew LaPorta||U Florida|
|8. COL||RHP||Casey Weathers||Vanderbilt U|
|9. ARI||RHP||Jarrod Parker||Norwell HS|
|10. SF||LHP||Madison Bumgarner||South Caldwell HS|
"If I had passed on Rick Porcello, I would've kicked myself for doing so. I feel comfortable at this point we did what's best for our organization."
As the first round started to unfold, it did seem like a stronger possibility that Porcello would be there for Detroit to consider seriously. But even with the five minutes between picks for the television broadcast, there wasn't exactly a ton of time to delve into the signability issue.
"I can't say we had a lot of time to work on that," Chadd admitted. "I was comfortable with the figure that was given to me and hopefully both sides can make it work. With the new dynamic, we know if we can't sign him, we get the pick next year. But we want to sign our players. We did not draft Rick Porcello with the intent to not sign him."
The new dynamic Chadd mentions is the new signing deadline that Flanagan referenced as well. Teams have until Aug. 15 now to sign a player or he re-enters the draft pool the following year. As compensation for not signing a first-rounder, a team gets a comparable first-round pick next year.
No one knows for sure how the new rule will truly impact draft strategy in the long run. For now, there's a bit of a split whether it emboldened some teams to take a guy who might be considered a tough sign, knowing that at the very worst, there's another pick for them at the next draft.
"Teams were going to take the players they were going to take regardless of the new rule," Ladnier said. "The deadline will force teams to make decision quickly because when things drag out, pressure builds and sometimes bad decisions are made."
"I think you can say it's a safety net, but we're looking to sign him," Chadd countered. "Going through those first three rounds, there are plenty of tough signs. I know what we're up against. We're going to do our best to make Rick Porcello a Tiger."
In the end, the effect the "Boras Factor" had on this draft, especially with the backdrop of the new signing deadline, perhaps won't be known until August 15. If all of the Boras first-rounders sign, was there as much mayhem as was initially thought? That may depend on the bonus figures agreed to and how contentious the negotiations end up being.
"I think there was some impact," said Chadd, pleased it impacted his ability to get one of the best pitchers in the draft class. "We'll see what happens with those top five picks. Every selection is different. Every case is different. Everybody has their own parameters."
Jonathon Mayo is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.