Scott Boras says Cubs must complement youth with veteran free agents
BY TONI GINNETTI firstname.lastname@example.org July 12, 2013 10:26PM
Scott Boras points to increasing television-rights money as a means to sign free agents. | Scott Halleran~Getty Images
Updated: August 14, 2013 6:21AM
Super agent Scott Boras has a vested interest in making the case for teams to sign free agents as part of any plan to win championships.
The baseball player in him — he spent several years in the Cubs’ minor-league system in the 1970s — and the businessman in him know the path to championships almost always includes them.
So while he can applaud the latest attempt to rebuild the Cubs through a robust farm system — one that now includes his client Kris Bryant — he said the dream of a World Series championship will take more.
“True development of young players happens at the major-league level,” Boras said. “It’s the first time they’re playing to win every game. There’s a different mental side of the game in the big leagues. That’s why you need veteran players around them to teach them.”
“This organization is doing what it needs to do [rebuilding the farm system], but they will still have to mix in free agents. This is Chicago. This is the Chicago Cubs, a major market team.”
Boras points to the television-rights money that will be available to teams soon. ESPN’s rights alone are estimated to be about $38 million per team. The Cubs’ local television rights in the next several years could boost coffers substantially.
That will provide money for free-agent signings, even while the team funds a projected $500 million renovation of Wrigley Field.
According to Boras, even if the Cubs are rebuilding, they still can be a “destination” team for free agents.
“No one wouldn’t like the city of Chicago,” he said. “The fan base speaks for itself.”
As much as team president Theo Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer have talked about reloading the farm system so it delivers a steady stream of talent, they acknowledge the wish for a July when the Cubs will be buyers instead of sellers at the trade deadline.
“We wanted to be buyers this year and last year,’’ Epstein said before the Cubs’ 3-2 loss Friday to the St. Louis Cardinals, a division rival that has perfected the blending of homegrown talent with free agents.
“You always want to be in that situation. With a few breaks, we could have been in that situation this year. The goal every year is to be looking to add and have a strong pennant push.”
Epstein’s success in Boston showcased homegrown talent, but the Red Sox’ championships also included veterans such as David Ortiz, Manny Ramirez and Curt Schilling.
Boras points to the Washington Nationals and Detroit Tigers as teams more like the Cubs in how they had to deal with the challenge of rebuilding.
The Nationals turned losing seasons into high draft picks, but they also brought in veterans such as Alfonso Soriano and Adam Dunn during the transition, Boras said.
The Tigers were 100-game losers, “but [general manager] Dave Dombrowski brought in players like Pudge Rodriguez and Magglio Ordonez. They signed Justin Verlander. A few years later, they were in the World Series,’’ he said.
Boras calls Bryant “a cornerstone piece” for the Cubs. He also is high on the Cubs’ other touted talent, such as Albert Almora and Jorge Soler.
But he said they won’t turn the franchise around alone.
“Any organization should be happy to invest in free agents,” he said. “The investment comes first, and then the return.”