The recent news of Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus’ 8-year, $120M extension came as quite a surprise. Andrus is represented by superagent Scott Boras, who has famously negotiated monstrous deals for all his clients, such as Alex Rodriguez, Prince Fielder, and Jayson Werth, among many others. In addition to his notorious mega-deals, Boras is well known for having a no-extensions policy with his clients, in order to maximize the amount of money they (and he) receive.
However, this offseason, a new set of rules for free agency went into effect. If a team offers a free-agent-to-be a one-year qualifying deal worth the average of the top 125 salaries in baseball and he declines it, the team signing that player will have to forfeit its first round pick. While a similar system existed before this year, the introduction of limited draft spending could be making teams more reluctant to give up draft picks to sign veterans, even valuable ones. Thus, Boras clients Michael Bourn, Kyle Lohse, and Rafael Soriano had to wait a long time to sign new deals, and received much less money than they were expected to. Recognizing this, Boras finally agreed to an extension for one of his clients. Does this mean that he will be more open to extensions in the future?
The Nats’ close relationship with Boras is widely publicized. After signing Werth, the Nationals flirted with Fielder last offseason and signed Soriano this year, becoming a rumored landing spot for any Boras client without a home after the initial free agency dust settles. A major part of the team’s relationship with Boras, in addition to having deep-pocketed owners, is the deals they struck with his clients, taken with back-to-back first overall picks: Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper.
So, if Boras is open to extensions now, does that mean the Nationals could make an attempt at locking up Harper and Strasburg for the long term?
Obviously, the Nationals have more pressing players to extend than Strasburg and Harper, who will be free agents in 2017 and 2018 respectively. Jordan Zimmerman and Ian Desmond, both free agents in 2016, come to mind, but it is worth keeping Strasburg and Harper in the back of the Nationals’ mind. Many successful young players get long-term deals, eating up their arbitration years and some free agent ones as well. The most notable recent example of this is Buster Posey, who signed a nine-year, $167M extension that gave the Giants five more years of control over their precocious catcher. With an MVP, a RoY, and two rings in his first three MLB seasons, Posey is as good a comp as any for an extremely high achieving young player getting extended. It’s also far too early to consider what an extension for either player might look like, given that they have both played so little in the majors to date, but if they live up to expectations in a year or two, the Lerners should seriously consider opening up the checkbooks and finding out whether Boras might be amenable to some potentially record-breaking extensions. If his mind doesn’t change, something tells me he might be.