You are the owner of this article.
Boras talks up Cardinals, but team did not seek private audience with Harper

Boras talks up Cardinals, but team did not seek private audience with Harper

Subscribe for $1 a month
Winter Meetings Baseball

Baseball agent Scott Boras speaks to the media during the Major League Baseball winter meetings in Las Vegas, Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2018. Boras represents star free agent Bryce Harper and many other big names in the game. (AP Photo/Janie McCauley)

LAS VEGAS • Perched like a partridge in a pear tree and surrounded by far more than four calling birds, agent Scott Boras held his annual winter meetings press conference in front of a Christmas pine Wednesday and suggested the Cardinals’ team, like the bat on its jersey, was still big enough for his big-ticket client, Bryce Harper.

“Maybe I’m a little bit biased because I was a member of the Cardinals but this is about winning and it’s about a good franchise and ownership and the reality of it is that franchise is worth billions of dollars and they’re a top-10 revenue team,” said Boras, before referencing the Cardinals’ acquisition of six-time All-Star Paul Goldschmidt. “There is not one bird on their chest. There are two birds.

“They sit on the big bank of St. Louis.”

The open bidding for the former MVP — a sweepstakes Boras has nicknamed “Harper’s bazaar”— continued this week in Harper’s hometown, and there remain few teams that are publicly chasing the outfielder. The Cardinals were not one of the teams that sought a private audience with Harper at a nearby hotel, sources confirmed. The Cardinals did meet with Boras in person and discussed several of his clients, including reliever Zach Britton and Harper. The Cardinals’ acquisition of Goldschmidt this past week changed their approach to free-agent bats and purchased them the chance to be patient and see if Harper’s market shifts.

Boras has been selling his client as a “generational talent.” At 26, Harper is one of the youngest players ever to hit the free-agent market, and he does so with a .900 career OPS, two seasons with an OPS greater than 1.000, and an MVP award at age 22. The age is a big selling point because it allows him to be positioned as impervious to the troubles teams have had with long, longer, and longest deals. Just this past week, the Toronto Blue Jays cut Troy Tulowitzki and swallowed more than $35 million that was left on his lengthy deal.

The Cardinals do not discuss specific free agents, but they have expressed a general reluctance to commit to a 10-year deal, at any age.

“Well, you go back and you look at what owners do or don’t do, the reality is owners may say that about 10-year contracts that economically have not been fruitful,” Boras said. “(But) these contracts — when you have a player who pays for himself that issue is removed.”

Boras has referred to the chase for Harper as a submarine race and not a “regatta race,” and as a result few teams have surfaced publicly. The Phillies, and the “crazy money” the owner said they intend to spend, and Washington are known suitors. The Yankees have been noisy about their lack of interest, with general manager Brian Cashman recently asking New York reporters why they were still asking about Harper.

“But,” he said Wednesday, “at the same time we’re a fully operational Death Star.”

That was a far more powerful allusion than Boras made when trying to explain how the Yankees could say they’re out and still be in on his client. Boras referenced a thermometer, a nurse, and a hospital, and suggested that it wasn’t the patient’s temperature today that mattered but how they felt when it was time to leave the hospital.

During a wide-ranging, hourlong informal press conference, Boras drummed on baseball’s current tanking issue. He called it baseball’s “non-competitive cancer,” and he suggested ways to incentive teams chasing 85, 88, 89 wins — and how that could include shoehorning a few more teams into the playoffs. He danced around suggesting a coming labor skirmish when the current CBA ends. He piped up about how compelling teams are in the playoffs five out of 10 years and the rare team is in the playoffs seven out of 10 years, and how that was the information he was providing his client, Harper. Boras presented the outfielder dossiers on interested teams that allowed him to stick a thermometer in the team’s future.

The Cardinals, a source said, are positioned well in that regard.

Boras, who was a minor-leaguer in the Cardinals’ system, has never hid his respect for the organization, its history, or owner Bill DeWitt Jr. An individual meeting probably wasn’t necessary or advantageous for the Cardinals, not until they see which way the “generational” market is headed.

“It’s a very different negotiations than most,” Boras said. He added about the Yankees, but it fit other potential chasers, too: “They’re smart. If they’re going to do something I think they can earnestly tell you that right now they’re not doing it and have every intention of doing something else when it’s best for them to do it.”

LINEUP CHATTER

Admitting that he’s a “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it” kind of guy, Cardinals manager Mike Shildt said he’s toying with the idea of having Matt Carpenter and Paul Goldschmidt atop the team’s lineup, but it will definitely be Carpenter at leadoff.

“I would say, in heavy pencil – you can expect to see Matt Carpenter in the leadoff spot,” Shildt said of the All-Star who has thrived in the spot despite yearly attempts to move him into the middle of the order. “I also recognize that it’s Dec. 12. Things change. Dynamics change. Never say never. I feel like that’s a piece that’s pretty well cemented.”

Shildt mused about his lineup during the annual manager’s session with the media at the winter meetings. He said that newly added first baseman Goldschmidt will bat either second or third in the lineup and that team is committed to Marcell Ozuna at cleanup, where he started most often this past season. If Goldschmidt inches up to No. 2 in the order, Paul DeJong is a candidate to hit third. Shildt has little interest in batting the pitcher eighth, still. When he took over as manager in July, Shildt utilized catcher Yadier Molina at No. 2 in the lineup, and Molina also appeared there during a recent All-Star tour of Japan this past month.

Shildt’s preference is to return Molina to lower in the order, where the catcher has previously said he’s more comfortable.

“The roster has changed,” Shildt said. “And we’ve made some upgrades. So what’s that look like for him and what that makes sense for him will still be determined. I would never rule it out, but I wouldn’t say that’s a likely spot. But he thrived there. Yadi pretty much thrives everywhere.”

EXTRA BASES

Infielder Jedd Gyorko told Shildt that he would play outfield, if necessary, and the Cardinals plan to give him some looks there in spring training. … It would benefit the Cardinals and their 40-man roster to sign a backup catcher to a minor-league deal with a wink, wink major-league job waiting. They’ve met with Francisco Pena’s agent about a reunion.

SCENE STEALERS

During a meeting Wednesday with all the general managers, the commissioner’s office described efforts that will be made in the coming season to curtail the sign stealing that appeared so prevalently in the postseason. The commissioner’s office looked into allegations against Houston about sign-stealing, and the Astros countered with an explanation that they weren’t sign-stealing but really monitoring their opponent’s dugout to see if the opponent was sign-stealing.

In an attempt to end this almost comical layers of monitoring the monitoring of potential sign-stealing, the commissioner office stressed how technology and video systems are not to be used to steal signs and that an official could be in place to police all video replay usage.

“Some of what MLB is going to implement (is) to ease everyone’s mind,” Girsch said. “We all use cameras for training purposes, replay. We have to have cameras. But they are trying to figure out a way to separate using them for things you are supposed to and using them for things they are not.”


Quick Hits: BenFred on STL sports

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Related to this story

Get up-to-the-minute news sent straight to your device.

Topics

News Alerts

Blues News

Breaking News

Cardinals News

Daily 6

National Breaking News

Sports