Yes, free agent pitcher Kyle Lohse is still unsigned. So are fellow Scott Boras clients Rafael Soriano and Michael Bourn. If we believe some commentary out there, the three are unfortunate victims of an MLB compensation system gone awry.
These three players made their own beds. They are part of a group of nine free agents who were eligible to receive qualifying offers by their current clubs – a one-year guaranteed contract for 2013 for $13.3 million.
Each of the nine was extended the offer – and they all turned it down. That was a choice they made. Perhaps some of the three may now wish they had a “do over.”
The other six already have homes for next season. Three signed with new teams and three returned to their former clubs.
Only the trio of Boras clients remain on the market. Do you think that is coincidence? Has the super-agent not had the last free agents to sign before?
Potential signing clubs may be reluctant to lose the early draft pick and associated slot spending tied to the signing of one of these free agents. They may feel the Boras clients are overpriced.
Either way, by its inaction, the market is stating the players’ perceived value is not worth what a signing team would have to give up by adding them.
The system is working just fine for the other six.
Josh Hamilton, B.J. Upton and Nick Swisher were in the exact same boat as the Boras three but landed substantial long-term deals with new teams. The Angels, Braves and Indians were willing to take the compensation hit and pay the necessary salaries to add these premium players on multi-year contracts.
Then there is David Ortiz, Adam LaRoche and Hiroki Kuroda. They were also in that population of nine and secured new deals to return to their same teams. Two of the three received raises, with the 37-year-old end-of-career Ortiz taking a small salary cut of $750K on a base of $14.75 million.
Only LaRoche settled for less than $13.3 million in 2013, but the career journeyman first baseman came out just fine. He secured a two-year deal worth $24 million that could evolve into $37 million if the third-year option is picked up.
What makes Boras’ final three players different is that their current teams have apparently moved on after seeing their $13.3 million offers rejected.
Those Cardinals fans holding out faint hope that Lohse might return to St. Louis were probably sent into deep depression by general manager John Mozeliak’s Friday comments on KFNS radio.
“It would be very difficult given what we have in our rotation right now, and also what we have in our bullpen that’s capable of pitching in the rotation,” the GM said.
It is too early to draw firm conclusions as to whether or not the system is flawed enough that change is required. There is still time for the Boras trio to find homes for next season.
The agent isn’t concerned, at least on the outside, telling ESPN this:
“People call me all the time and say, ‘Man, your players aren’t signed yet,’” Boras said. “Well, it doesn’t really matter what time dinner is when you’re the steak.”
Even if so, the sizzle from those steaks has not been all that enticing to date. The same ESPN article, written by Jerry Crasnick, does outline a number of potential homes for each of the unsigned Boras clients.
If this doesn’t end well for the three, how much of the problem should be blamed on the system and how much of their problem is due to a mismatch between their asking price and their perceived market value?