Image credit: Gerrit Cole (Getty Images)
As soon as the World Series ended, the speculation began that agent Scott Boras was going to take free agent righthander Gerrit Cole to the free agent market with dollar signs dancing in his head.
Now, Boras has earned his reputation for his willingness to shop his client, looking for the highest bidder, but that’s only because the clients allow it to happen.
Cole isn’t one of them. He’s not one of the sheep following the shepherd.
It is rare, but when Boras clients take charge, Boras is wise enough to get out of the way.
Heck, he did it with Cole when Cole came out of high school in Southern California. The Yankees drafted him 28th overall in 2008 out of Orange Lutheran High, thinking they could persuade him to sign even while other teams were scared off because of Cole’s expressed commitment to take the scholarship he was offered by UCLA.
Never afraid to spend money, especially in the period before draft bonus pools, the Yankees felt good about the opportunity to land a prospect the quality of Cole. A formal offer was never made, but they did indicate a willingness to cough up close to $4 million, and Boras, anxious to get a client into the Yankees’ organization, was on board.
Cole and his father, however, were not.
“We did a ton of thinking—just an absurd amount of thinking about this,” Cole told the Los Angeles Times. “My dad has a Ph.D., and he’s a real visual kind of guy. So he made charts, and we went over financial figures, comparing people who are drafted in the first round and have somewhat of a baseball career with others who graduated college and the average gross of what they make in baseball and afterward.”
Three years later, Cole had been impressive enough at UCLA that the Pirates drafted him first overall and signed him for a then-record $8 million bonus. Now, that is double what the Yankees were kicking around, but did the wait really pay off for Cole? What if he had signed three years earlier, and made it to the big leagues two or three years quicker, which would have opened the door to free agency two or three years ago, not this winter?
Nobody will ever know. What they do know is Cole had a plan, and even though he had Boras as his agent, he did it his way.
So did Greg Maddux when he became a free agent. Maddux received a sizably bigger offer from the Yankees than he did the Braves, and despite Boras pushing for the Big Apple, Maddux signed with the Braves.
So did Carlos Gonzalez, who signed an extension when he was with the Rockies despite protests from Boras. Gonzalez explained that the $75 million “means a lot to my family in Venezuela. My family is taken care off with this deal. I have told Scott when this contract is up, I will do whatever he wants.”
So when word gets out that Cole is focused on signing with a West Coast team—the Dodgers were mentioned most often—rest assured he’s going to wind up with a West Coast team.
Boras may be among the most aggressive agents in the game, always looking to enhance his résumé with the deals he negotiates, but he’s smart enough to realize that when push comes to shove, he can push club executives all he wants, but when the player speaks, Boras listens.