Salisbury recaps Day 3 of MLB's winter meetings
Dom Brown's agent Scott Boras knows rumors about his client are to be expected, especially this time of year. (AP)
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Scott Boras, baseball’s most high-powered agent, held court with reporters at the winter meetings Wednesday afternoon.
Boras always believed Philadelphia was a sleeping baseball giant, and he was enthused to see the Phillies open their wallet and play with the big boys on the free agent market in recent winters.
But this winter, the Phillies seem content to stay on the sidelines and let other clubs write the big checks. The Phils have three players – Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels and Ryan Howard – who average at least $24 million per season, a closer (Jonathan Papelbon) who makes $13 million and a middle-infield combo (Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley) that combines for $26 million per season, so they clearly are not cheap. Their payroll projects to about $165 million for the coming season. That's in the top handful in the game.
Despite all this, the Phillies are clearly monitoring the level of their contractual commitments this winter. They have targeted mid-range free agents such as Marlon Byrd, Ryan Vogelsong, Scott Feldman and Ryan Webb. The Phils landed Byrd for two years and $16 million but struck out on pitchers Vogelsong, Feldman and Webb.
At the winter meetings, the Phils have continued to look at the back end of free-agent pitching market. Amaro indicated Wednesday that he was looking to “hit a couple of doubles rather than one home run” on the free-agent pitching market.
In the Phillies, Boras sees a club trying to balance the future and the present. That can be a challenge.
“I think their team is in a position where they are trying to work on what’s below, but they’re trying to win now,” said Boras, who represents Phillies’ left fielder Domonic Brown. “When you’re in that position, it’s hard to say when you look in the glass of water that it’s crystal clear. It’s a hard process. It’s a very hard process.”
At 26, Brown is one of the Phillies’ youngest talents. He hit 27 home runs last season and made the NL all-star team. That hasn’t stopped the Phillies from dangling him in trade talk. Sources say they are looking for two young pitchers in return.
“I think it’s unfair to say they’re dangling him,” Boras said. “I think a lot of people are asking for him because he is young and he hits a lot of home runs. That’s customary. So I would expect that teams are going to ask Philadelphia about that, because they may be offering them more veteran players to help in their direction toward winning now. That’s the give and go of this. It’s like eating and brushing your teeth at the same time. You want clean teeth but then again you want to survive. So I don’t know quite how you do it.”
Brown has been the subject of trade talk for years. He has proven himself to be good at putting it aside and playing ball.
“I always tell players when you’re under control of a club you just sit back and listen and I’ll let you know (if there’s a trade),” Boras said. “But usually you’re going to end up in a good place if it happens.”