I started reading the website HardballTalk a couple of weeks ago, after a partner at the law firm I am working at told me that it is one of his favorite places to go to find baseball information. Since then, I have been hooked. I especially enjoy it when Craig Calcaterra, a former lawyer, talks about legal issues. One of his recent posts questions whether Scott Boras’ expansive client list ever creates a conflict of interest. Apparently this is a subject that Calcaterra attempts to tackle every year.
At the time Calcaterra wrote his piece, Jayson Werth and Adrian Beltre were still free agents. As Dan Furey pointed out yesterday, Werth is off of the market, after signing a contract that almost made Furey fall off his chair. But Calcaterra did bring up an interesting general argument when it comes to Boras clients.
What happens if, in the course of a negotiation over Client A, someone on the Sox alludes to the fact that they’d prefer to spend money on Client B, or someone very much like him? I’m curious about how Boras handles that. I’m curious as to his explanation about how hitting the Sox as hard as he can in the course of a negotiation for one of his players doesn’t necessarily harm the interests of another who is obviously sought by the same team. One possible answer is that subordinates handle negotiations and are “walled off” from the man himself to keep things kosher, but I don’t think either Adrian Beltre or Jayson Werth hired Boras to be represented by a suboirdiante.
I also do not buy an argument stating that Boras does not handle his marquee clients’ negotiations himself. This topic reminds me of a post that I published on May 8, 2009, which partly discussed David Dunn of Athletes First’s representation of Mark Sanchez and Kellen Clemens, who at the time was fighting with Sanchez for the starting quarterback role. In the post, I quoted Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com, who wrote:
Every agent should want his client to be a starter — and should be doing everything he can to make the case for the player to start.
Clemens needs an agent who’ll be doing just that. And Sanchez needs an agent who’ll do the same, especially since his contract will have a big-money one-time bonus triggered by participating in 35 percent of the snaps this year, of which Dunn will get a fee.
Dunn, however, has no choice but to keep his head low and his mouth shut. So, neither guy will be getting the best possible representation.
It’s a conflict of interest. And one of the two players should hire a new agent.
Should it also be said regarding Boras’ representation of free agent players at the same position? While it may not be an issue of who is starting, it could come down to who is signed by what team and for how much money.