By Bruce Levine–
ORLANDO, Fla. (670 The Score) — As the Winter Meetings continued for the fourth day Wednesday, powerful agent Scott Boras seemed a bit frustrated by the slow-moving market for his star free agents.
Boras believes a trade fog is affecting offseason player movement, including the likes of four players he represents in right-hander Jake Arrieta, first baseman Eric Hosmer, third baseman Mike Moustakas and outfielder J.D. Martinez. Boras tied the holdup to the Shohei Ohtani sweepstakes and then the Giancarlo Stanton derby that marked the beginning of a big sale by the Marlins.
“The Winter Meetings are akin to weather report,” Boras quipped. “We had the Ohtani solar eclipse. There was a darkness in the industry for almost 10-12 days where everyone was involved. That is a pretty rare event in baseball when everyone is involved. That set back a lot of normal winter activity. We then had the ‘Miami rain,’ where we have seen a heavy liquidation. We have seen one of our major league jewelry stores become a pawn shop.”
Asked specifically about Arrieta, Boras stayed in full weatherman mode.
“We are now trying to get through the trade haze and fog, which is (usually) clearly taken care of in November,” Boras said. “We are starting meetings at 2:15 in the morning because everybody is trying to catch up.”
On a followup about Arrieta, Boras pointed out the Cubs have the money to sign him if they want. After winning the National League Cy Young in 2015, Arrieta was instrumental in the team’s 2016 championship run, a point Boras is quick to remind everyone of.
Arrieta, who turns 32 in March, was 14-10 with a 3.53 ERA and 1.22 WHIP in 30 starts in 2017. It’s unclear how seriously the Cubs will pursue him.
“The Cubs are a franchise that has taken something and with Tom (Ricketts) and Theo (Epstein) and increased the franchise value by over $2 billion,” Boras said. “This is clearly a matter of intellectual choice for them. The road to Playoffville is winning big games at big times. Jake Arrieta has done that for the Cubs. They know that, and I am sure they will always have interest in acquiring that.”
Boras made clear that conversation hasn’t taken place yet with the Cubs. He also didn’t reveal too much of his hand when asked if he feels Arrieta is a $180 million to $200 million pitcher, though he did bring up comparisons to Astros ace right-hander Justin Verlander and Giants ace left-hander Madison Bumgarner.
“If you owned a team I would probably answer that question,” Boras said. “I would say performance wise, you have varying criteria that illustrate value to teams. Winning big games are what ownerships really care about. There are only three pitchers in today’s game — Verlander, Bumgarner and Arrieta — that have won three elimination games when it is all on the line. You either win or go home. They have proven they have the wherewithal to do that. I will never discuss value.”
If for some reason Arrieta’s price came down in both years and average annual value, the Cubs would be really interested. Only time will tell if that’s the case, as an Arrieta decision seems weeks away still.
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.