SAN DIEGO – Powerful agent Scott Boras blames the ongoing freeze between his players and the Toronto Blue Jays on the club’s policy limiting contracts to five years.
The last Boras Corporation client to play for the Blue Jays was Brad Wilkerson in 2008, and the last of the agency’s prospects to be drafted by the club was James Paxton, who went unsigned, in 2009.
While Boras did say Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos has expressed interest in Japanese infielder Takashi Toritani – “We’ve had discussions, yes,” he said – the club isn’t actively engaged and it’s unclear if he’ll be the player that ends the drought between the two sides.
“I talk to AA all the time, I think it’s a matter of his fits,” Boras said during a lengthy and entertaining media session at the winter meetings. “I think the Blue Jays economically are one of the top six, seven teams in baseball. Rogers Communications is the wealthiest owner of any team in baseball, there’s no doubt. They have the wherewithal to do it. I’ve always said the free-agent structure, and we’ve had a lot of free agents, you’ve got to do what they’re doing with hockey.
“Rogers Communications owns the Leafs, you’ve got to be able to compete with the marketplace to give the years the other teams are offering free agents to make a great city and great franchise attract those players.”
Rogers owns 37.5 per cent of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, which owns the Maple Leafs. Last year, the Maple Leafs gave Phil Kessel a $64-million, eight-year contract extension and Dion Phaneuf a $49-million, seven-year contract extension.
The longest contract in Blue Jays history is the $126-million, seven-year deal handed to Vernon Wells after the 2006 season, but under president and CEO Paul Beeston, the club has refused to go longer than five years on player contracts.
“The baseball staff there is very astute, they know who these players are, they know how talented these major free agents are, but to attract them there, they’ve got to compete with the rest of the league,” said Boras. “What we’ve seen, certainly from my perspective, is a lot of the great players we’ve represented who received seven, eight, 10 year contracts, they’ve been precluded from even entertaining Toronto because of the limitations.
“They’re the only team that has said that limitation is five years. When you do that, you are cutting yourself off from a pool of talent that makes it very, very difficult to compete, particularly in the AL East.”