In Sunday’s AJC, Thomas Stinson profiles Scott Boras. The article provoked a thought that I have been having for some time: is Scott Boras really that much better than other sports agents? He is not bad at his job, but I’m not certain that he is really any better at negotiating than many other agents.
I’d love to do a study on this, but data on who represents whom in sports is too annoying for me to aggregate. But, after thinking about this, I suspect that Boras gets so much flack simply because he represents the top players in the game. Of course, his clients are going to get big salaries. His negotiation tactics are often reported to be shrewd, but what negotiation isn’t contentious? When I read about negotiations involving other agents, teams are often bitter with the other side.
I think the real difference with Boras is that he has built up a reputation that allows the best to be drawn to him. And he doesn’t seem to hide from the press. In fact, his best talent may not be negotiation, but in convincing players to hire him. And if I’m a player who has no idea what my talents will bring, having a familiar name with a reputation for snagging big contracts is going to be a big comfort.
I have also wondered if Boras offers players guaranteed minimums in order to get them to be his client. For example, he might say, “I know you will take $5 million, but this team will pay you $7 million. Let me play hardball, and I will give you $5 million myself if the contract falls through.” Over a period of time, if he wins out he wins enough to payback any losses he incurs.