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Carlos Beltran wins a grievance against Scott Boras

Mar 27, 2014, 9:40 AM EDT

Boras sulking AP

You don’t hear a ton about the inner workings of player-agent relationships, but it can get pretty contentious. One point of contention: when a player fires his agent and signs with a new one just before a big payday. That’s what Carlos Beltran did with Scott Boras before Beltran signed with the Cardinals, and Boras wanted a cut of that deal. Beltran just prevailed:

Boras was seeking 5% of Beltran’s contract with St. Louis, citing a provision in their agreement that required payment if he prematurely terminated him.

While many agents, including Boras, have used the provision for years, it was ruled unenforceable by independent arbitrator Shyam Das, who sided with the players union.

Beltran says that Boras didn’t do any of the negotiating of that deal, so why should Boras get a cut? Which is a pretty good point. Even if that sort of provision is not enforceable anymore, if the agent did actually do work for the player, presumably he can still assert a claim to get his fair share based on the facts of the negotiation as opposed to the mere operation of a contract clause. The agent-player stuff is a weird and often sordid world. Client-poaching and the like. It’s probably best for agents to get paid for what they do, not the mere fact of a relationship.

Show your work, Boras.

  1. doctornature - Mar 27, 2014 at 9:55 AM

    The judge must be a baseball fan, as tired of Boras as everybody else.

    • jwbiii - Mar 27, 2014 at 10:38 AM

      1. Shyam Das is not a baseball fan.
      2. Any baseball fan would know that Dan Lozano, Beltran’s current agent, is far sleazier than Boras. NSFW.

      • davidpom50 - Mar 28, 2014 at 2:10 PM

        Yeah, I don’t get the Boras hate. By all accounts, he’s a standup guy who’s really, really good at getting his clients the best possible deal. Which is, ya know, his job. He doesn’t seem to poach clients or engage in horrible behavior like Lozano. He is just very well prepared and aggressive in negotiations.

      • mpzz - Apr 5, 2014 at 10:31 PM

        By what account is Boras a “standup guy”? He asks for obscene amounts of money which causes a lot more negotiation than necessary, and he interferes with the teams who employ his clients by making insane demands on their behalf.

    • Detroit Michael - Mar 27, 2014 at 11:07 AM

      Shyam Das is an arbitrator, not a judge, as well.

  2. tysonpunchinguterus - Mar 27, 2014 at 9:59 AM

    It’s been a rough stretch for Boras lately. He lost this case, lost Cano to Jay-Z, and can’t find any takers for Stephen Drew and Kendrys Morales after turning down $14 million contracts. Perhaps his ego has finally overtaken his skills.

  3. stex52 - Mar 27, 2014 at 10:07 AM

    I don’t leave the players out of the sordid part of all this. They know who Boras is and how he plays when they hire him. If the player doesn’t want to be mean and dirty, there are a lot of other agents.

    • historiophiliac - Mar 27, 2014 at 10:13 AM

      And, it’s easy to turn around and blame him later when a tactic you agreed to didn’t work or the system worked against you. He’s a convenient scapegoat (that helps you save face). If you make a deal with the devil, though, it’s pretty hypocritical to turn around later and get the vapors that he’s the Great Satan.

      • nbjays - Mar 27, 2014 at 10:29 AM

        Waitaminute…. I thought A-Rod was the Great Satan.

      • unclemosesgreen - Mar 27, 2014 at 12:51 PM

        I was on a conference call with the Demon Council, you rang?

        You want to know what’s hell? Meetings.

      • historiophiliac - Mar 27, 2014 at 1:58 PM

        A perpetual meeting where someone reads a power point presentation to you forever?

        BTW, I don’t know what it is today, but the ladies in my office are all over the fart jokes…maybe cuz it’s windy out.

      • unclemosesgreen - Mar 27, 2014 at 4:25 PM

        Power point presentations with slide transition effects? Count me in.

  4. scotttheskeptic - Mar 27, 2014 at 10:32 AM

    Boras, contemptible though he may be, is no dummy. I suspect future representation agreements have some new language in them to prevent this from recurring.

    • spursareold - Mar 27, 2014 at 11:51 AM

      Not legal. Players can hire and fire agents any time they want. I’m guessing Boras himself has swooped in and stolen clients right before their new deal was due. The agent is only due a percentage on the contract(s) he negotiates. He has no inherant right to represent the player on his next deal.

      • forsch31 - Mar 27, 2014 at 11:10 PM

        Yep…that’s pretty much what the ruling was about. The language was already in Beltran’s contract with Boras that if he prematurely terminated his deal with him, he got 5% of Beltran’s next deal. What the arbitrator ruled is that kind of language was overstepping of an agent’s authority, and when Beltran terminated the contract, that contract–and everything in it–was no longer enforceable.

        From the article:
        “This case is about what is or is not permissible under governing MLBPA regulations …” Das wrote. “The MLBPA, as the exclusive collecting bargaining representative, gets to decide what is in the best interests of the players it represents.”

    • mpzz - Apr 5, 2014 at 10:12 PM

      You think he can get players to agree to pay him even when he isn’t their agent anymore? Even baseball players aren’t that dumb.

  5. gloccamorra - Mar 27, 2014 at 10:53 AM

    “Show your work, Boras.”

    Excellent! I remember getting that from teachers for years. I heard they even said it to Einstein when he came up with E=MC2.

  6. unlost1 - Mar 27, 2014 at 12:14 PM

    ha! Boras used to be a Cardinal

    • jwbiii - Mar 27, 2014 at 12:33 PM

      Yep. Tore up his ankle, Tommie Herr passed him on the organizational depth chart, found a new career.

  7. jm91rs - Mar 27, 2014 at 12:45 PM

    Did Boras get 5% of the most recent A-Rod deal, even though he overplayed his hand and A-rod told him to walk away?

    • stex52 - Mar 27, 2014 at 1:33 PM

      I think we decided that he did. A-Rod told him to go get the deal done. The contracts, legalities, details, consulting, etc. are on the agent, as they should be. Until and unless A-Rod fired him, he still owed him the fee.

  8. jss1330 - Mar 27, 2014 at 4:04 PM

    I thought MLB fired Das after the Braun ruling

    • jss1330 - Mar 27, 2014 at 4:10 PM

      Oops never mind this is a MLBPA issue

    • jwbiii - Mar 27, 2014 at 4:53 PM

      It was months after the Braun ruling, but only a few days after he overturned Eliezer Alfonzo’s suspension on the same grounds.

  9. forsch31 - Mar 27, 2014 at 11:03 PM

    The MLB Players Association represented Beltran in the case, and Carlos has some pretty strong words in that article:

    “Once you get to the point where you believe that representation is not working for you, there shouldn’t be any fear of changing agents. I think this case may help some young players realize that, yes, they can make a change and not get into trouble.”

    Other players like Robinson Cano and Edwin Jackson go on record with their take. Sounds like there’s some concern from players that agents sometimes have too much power over them, and that players themselves sometimes get lost in the tug-of-war between owners and agents in contract negotiations.

  10. r9n4d8m - Apr 6, 2014 at 5:00 PM

    Sounds like Beltran is the bad guy here. If he agreed to this clause he should pay up. The MLB is basically saying a contract is worthless and super rich players can do whatever they want, and if they sign and agree upon a contract it doesn’t matter, they can just get out of it. I hope Boras goes to civil court with this.

    • chuckleberry1974 - Apr 9, 2014 at 10:31 AM

      Not at all. In fact, that clause is generally there in case a player fires an agent after some or all of the work had been negotiating the new deal for the player, and then gets fired before the deal is signed officially. It’s a way to protect the agent. But in this case, Boras had nothing to do with Beltran’s Cardinals deal. That means no money, and I think it’s about time that this kind of language got cleared up in player/agent contracts.

      Also, sure, Boras does a great job getting his players paid. That doesn’t mean he’s a stand-up guy. He often prevents mid- to lower market teams from locking up players before free agency. Take the Orioles right now, for instance. There’s a decent chance they could lose both Chris Davis and Matt Weiters, both Boras clients, after 2015. I know it’s an agent’s job to get the best deal he can for his player, but he can do the game a great service by encouraging players to get good deals AND have a long career with one team. That would be something the fans respect.

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