Heyman "Breaks" Another Story
"Just a puppet on a lonely string
Oh who would ever want to be king?"
- Coldplay, Viva La Vida
Jon Heyman has done it again. He broke another story on Friday when reporting that Jason Varitek had "reached a two-year agreement with the Red Sox."
In typical Heyman fashion, he wanted to make sure that everyone knew that "SI.com was the first to report that Varitek had an agreement with Boston." To that, I say "big deal." OK, maybe I didn't use the word "deal." I mean, this doesn't go down as some sort of exclusive or investigative reporting.
While the signing won't be officially announced until Varitek completes his physical, the Red Sox had placed a Friday deadline on an official proposal that was delivered via registered mail to him and agent Scott Boras on January 23. In other words, it was no secret that something was going to happen that day. Either Varitek was going to accept or reject Boston's offer.
If you're wondering how Heyman got wind of the news before any of the Boston beat writers or columnists, be aware that he had Mark Teixeira going to the Yankees before anyone else and, according to his biography, also "broke the story of Barry Bonds going to the Giants in 1992...Alex Rodriguez going to the Yankees in 2004, A-Rod opting out of his $252-million contract in 2007 and Manny Ramirez going to the Dodgers in 2008."
Varitek. Teixeira. Manny. A-Rod 2x. Bonds, vintage 1992. Do you notice anything in common? Yes, all of these players are or were represented by Boras at the time of their signings. It is plainly obvious that Heyman, known among fellow writers as scottboras.com, is getting fed such stories by Scott himself, which is fine and dandy except there is more going on here than meets the eye.
You see, Boras throws Heyman a bone on a Tek or Tex signing but also uses him to spread rumors about the level of interest and terms in ongoing free agent negotiations to create a false sense of demand. Teams that fall for this trick wind up competing against themselves, which is exactly what Boras desires.
While Boras is no fool, Heyman is a tool for the Scott Boras Corporation. Boras knows how to game the system to get the best deals for his clients and will gladly use Heyman as long as the latter plays along or until the market realizes what is going on. As it stands now, it's almost as if Heyman, who is no stranger to the Boras suites during the winter meetings, is on the SBC payroll.
You can see these shenanigans at work in Heyman's recent stories about a few other Boras clients, including Joe Crede, Oliver Perez, and Derek Lowe. But these are relatively innocent in comparison to following the Boras, Heyman & Co. saga as it relates to Manny.
07/27/08: Manny unlikely to be traded
Heyman not only is a mouthpiece for Boras but is wrong more often than he is right. Look, if you throw enough mud against the wall, some of it is bound to stick. That doesn't make you a soothsayer or the next Carl Bernstein or Bob Woodward.
The remaining stories are presented without comment as to let you be the judge (although I took the liberty to add emphasis for ease of reading).
08/11/08: More Ramirez Fallout
While folks were understandably upset over Ramirez's terrible behavior leading up to the trade, no one could reasonably expect MLB to actually tie Ramirez's childish antics to Boras. Ramirez's lay-down behavior was so outrageous that MLB should indeed investigate him. But there's no belief from anyone credible that they'll find anything, certainly nothing against Boras. The reality is that Ramirez behaved beautifully for half a season under Boras, then became irritated over the club options that could tie him to Boston for two more years. But let's not forget that Ramirez's behavior had been erratic throughout his eight years in Boston, including long before he hired Boras, and Red Sox people have covered up a lot of it in the past. Is it possible that Boras mentioned to him that the club options in his Red Sox contract were not a good thing? It is. Will Boras benefit from the options being dropped? Presumably he will, assuming the erratic Ramirez stays with Boras for the signing of his next contract. But the real question is: Would Boras risk his seemingly excellent relationship with the Red Sox and overall reputation to orchestrate Ramirez's ridiculous behavior? According to one GM, it's just the opposite, that perhaps no agent is better than Boras at dealing with off-field issues of players. Anyway, the orchestration idea is farfetched and nothing more than misguided media musings advanced in some cases by sworn Boras enemies.
10/02/08: Manny's deep impact immeasurable
It's impossible to calculate the true worth of Manny. Though, I'm quite sure his agent Scott Boras will have an idea or two about that while shopping the good Manny around this winter.
10/15/08: Ramirez could be looking for six-year deal on open market
Ramirez is believed to be seeking a six-year deal for as much as $25 million per year . . . Ramirez's agent, Scott Boras, declined to name a target price in an interview with SI.com on Wednesday. That $150 million total price tag is an estimate based on Boras' use of the word "iconic'' to describe the 36-year-old Ramirez, combined with Ramirez's own constant mention of a "six-year deal'' during frequent media interviews this postseason.
10/28/08: L.A. vs. N.Y. for top free-agents
"He pays for himself. You've got a free player with Manny,'' Boras said. "He's an iconic player who's changed the face and fortunes of the franchise.''
The Manny Derby surely will be limited by the stratospheric price, but at least three teams are emerging as potential suitors. The Yankees' will "take a look at Manny,'' according to someone familiar with their thinking, the Mets are said to be weighing a run despite deep pitching needs, and the pitching-strong Blue Jays are also believed to be considering a run. While it's hard to imagine Ramirez embracing New York after complaining for 7 1/2 years about Boston's fishbowl existence, the Yankees and Mets have an inherent financial advantage over L.A. in owning their own TV networks (McCourt, meanwhile, is said to have a poor relationship with Fox) and introducing new stadiums. It shouldn't be forgotten that Ramirez followed the money when he took $160 million over eight years from Boston before the 2001 season.
The Orioles are another team that has been suggested as a possible landing spot, but they are more than one player away from competing in the ultra-tough AL East. Besides, new baseball chief Andy MacPhail appears to be getting away from the big-ticket buys of the Orioles past, and if they do go for a major free agent, it's more likely to be Severna Park, Md., native and Angels star Mark Teixeira. The Angels make some sense for Ramirez, but are more likely to try to keep the much younger Teixeira, whom they love.
Indeed, the pressure to retain Ramirez at almost any price in [sic] intense. As one friend of Manny's put it, "There's going to be a deep depression inside and outside the clubhouse -- among the manager, players, fans, everyone -- if Ramirez leaves.''
"I don't know how [McCourt] doesn't bring him back. It's got to be as much a business decision as a baseball decision. He's got the Dodgers by the ....'' another AL executive said.
That same executive predicted a deal for either three years plus an option or four years for $20 to $25 million annually, which would represent a major windfall from the two $20 million option years Ramirez found so onerous before working hard to get those club options dropped from his just-expired contract.
The Dodgers' early interest in keeping Ramirez to a short (but rich) deal -- first reported by SI.com on Wednesday -- might explain Ramirez's rhetoric following the season in which he professed no special interest in staying in L.A., and candidly added that his only goal was in going to the highest bidder, especially one who'd like to give him a six-year deal. Perhaps by then Manny knew of L.A.'s intentions.
In any case, the Manny Derby appears as to have opened up a tad. Though while Philly, the Jays and some others might make for an interesting alternative, it's still entirely possible that the battle for Manny and the other two mega-stars comes down to a competition between the two biggest markets -- New York and Los Angeles.
11/02/08: A rundown of key free agents
The Dodgers' intention to try to keep Ramirez to a short-term deal -- they're expected to make an initial offer of a two-year contract for about $55 million, perhaps a little bit more, as reported on SI.com Wednesday -- could leave an opening for one of a few other teams to try for Ramirez. And one of those clubs could be the Phillies, who would lock down baseball's best lineup by adding Manny to a batting order that already includes two MVPs.
The field may be somewhat limited for a 36-year-old player seeking a six-year deal for $25 million per, but potential Ramirez suitors include the Mets, Yankees, Blue Jays and Orioles in addition to the Phillies, who may have two things going for them: 1) Manager Charlie Manuel was Ramirez's hitting coach in Cleveland, not that Manny ever needed a hitting coach, and 2) Stiff and streaky left fielder Pat Burrell, who is behind Manny in terms of defense and personality (not to mention hitting, of course), is also a free agent.
Meanwhile, Manny Ramirez should soon expect to receive a shorter offer at close to a record annual salary from the incumbent Dodgers, perhaps a two-year deal for near the $27.5-million Yankees salary of Alex Rodriguez, as SI.com reported several days ago.
11/05/08 (11:30 AM ET): Manny, Boras looking for long-term offers
Ramirez. He's not going to like the Dodgers' short-term bid and will play the field. The Yankees, Mets, Blue Jays and Phillies are among those expected to check in. My call: Dodgers, three years, $75 million.
One reason the Dodgers haven't yet made their official offer for superstar free-agent outfielder Manny Ramirez is that his agent, Scott Boras, apparently isn't fielding offers that aren't in the ballpark of the five or six years that Manny wants.
11/05/08 (07:43 PM ET): Dodgers show Manny the money
As SI.com reported two weeks ago, the Dodgers intended to offer Ramirez a short-term deal at a high annual salary, perhaps $55-$60 million for two years. (Dodgers GM Ned Colletti confirmed their interest in a shorter deal here the other day and also expressed his belief that they any possible deal would take time.)
But Boras pointed out that he and Colletti negotiated a five-year deal for Barry Bonds back in 2001 when Colletti was the Giants' assistant GM, when Bonds was 37 years old (Ramirez is 36). Ramirez has said publicly that he wants a six-year deal (but probably would take five, or perhaps four) after hitting .396 with 17 home runs and 53 RBIs for the Dodgers. It apepars [sic] that if the Dodgers don't change their stance, the Yankees and others (the Phillies and Blue Jays are possibly interested) may battle for Ramirez without them.
Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti met with agent Scott Boras on Tuesday night and made an offer for Manny Ramirez. Colletti revealed in a meeting with reporters Wednesday that the offer would be the "second-highest average annual value in baseball."
11/06/08: Dodgers lose ground in Manny derby
While the Dodgers' proposal for Ramirez calls for a high annual salary, the issue appears to be the number of years. The Dodgers' offer is believed to be a two-year deal in the neighborhood of $50 million.
The sides are so far apart that the Blue Jays, Orioles and perhaps the Yankees and other teams likely have moved ahead of the Dodgers in terms of their chances to win the services of the mercurial superstar.
12/01/08: Yankees haven't ruled out Manny
Manny Ramirez still could have one chance to come home. While the Mets have all but decided they will not pursue the slugging savant from Washington Heights, in Upper Manhattan, the Yankees clearly have not ruled out a run at Ramirez.
12/06/08: Behind in Teixeira Derby, Yanks could target Manny
The other obvious possibility for Ramirez would appear to be the Angels, whose owner, Arte Moreno, has said publicly that they may turn to Ramirez if they can't sign Teixeira, their top target. Besides the obvious advantage of adding one of the greatest righthanded hitters of alltime, if the Angels sign Manny, they'd be tweaking the crosstown Dodgers. The same could be said if the Yankees sign Ramirez. Only they'd be tweaking the Red Sox.
There are those suggesting the Yankees are only in the running for Teixeira to either monitor the rival Red Sox or drive up the price for the switch-hitting slugger. But while it's true the Yankees don't appear as eager to sign Teixeira as the Angels and Red Sox, they do appear willing to sign him at the right price. After already signing CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett for $243.5 million combined, the Yankees appear disinclined to offer $200 million for Teixeira, which is what it may take to get him.
12/07/08: Manny won't accept Dodgers' arbitration offer
He seeks a deal for at least five years, and while that seems like a tall order for the 36-year-old star, even after hitting .396 with 17 home runs and 53 RBIs in 53 games in Los Angeles, four years could be a possibility.
12/10/08: Hank the Yank wants Manny
The Dodgers, who have multiple infield needs (shortstop and third base) and could use a starting pitcher as well, remain interested in Ramirez and can resume negotiating with him if they choose to do so.
He is also a strong fallback option for two teams that are pursuing star free agent first baseman Mark Teixeira -- the Angels and Yankees. As a matter of fact, if the Yankees aren't able to convince CC Sabathia to come to New York, the Yankees may pursue both Ramirez and Teixeira.
Yankees co-owner Hank Steinbrenner is said by people close to him to want Manny Ramirez in pinstripes. Unlike his father, who dreaded dreadlocks, Steinbrenner the junior is said by a Yankees person "not to give a (hoot) about his hair.'' . . . the Yankees are mulling a run at Ramirez. The Dodgers have been pursuing Ramirez, and if the Angels miss out on Teixeira, they might join the Manny fray as well.
12/17/08: 'No way' Manny will retire, says friend
Teixeira, though, has said he intends to try to do a deal by Christmas, which means Manny's market should take off thereafter.
01/02/09 (12:03 PM ET): Resetting the market: The Top 20 remaining free agents
At least two potential losers in the five-team Teixeira Sweepstakes are likely to pursue Ramirez (Yankees and Angels), and perhaps a third (Nationals) would, too. The incumbent Dodgers remain interested. All of which should cheer Manny's spirit if he's just a little more patient.
Manny Ramirez, OF. The Dodgers remain the favorite to keep Ramirez, but the rival Giants loom as a major threat. L.A. wants to keep it to two years but eventually gave in on a third year for Rafael Furcal, and will probably have to do the same with the man who saved the franchise last season. All along, San Francisco has said it might take a stab at one of the "big three'' (and the other two, Sabathia and Teixeira, are gone already), so it stands to reason that they're in for Ramirez, the perfect antidote for their moribund offense. The Angels say they're out, but he'll still be tempting for them as well. Then there's always that so-called mystery team to contend with.
01/02/09 (01:53 PM ET): Giants enter Manny race; Don't write off Angels yet
The Giants have entered the bidding for free-agent superstar Manny Ramirez, SI.com has confirmed.
01/05/09: Rangers mull Manny pursuit
KPIX-TV reported Friday that the Giants have made a three-year offer with an option for a fourth year.
The Dodgers remain interested in Ramirez, and a bidding contest between the two great West Coast rivals could loom. The Dodgers originally offered the slugging savant $45 million over two years, but later withdrew that offer. They will have to do better than that to have chance to retain his services.
While the Angels have suggested publicly that they won't be bidding for Ramirez, some baseball people aren't writing them off. There also appears to be one or two other American League teams on the periphery of the bidding. The Yankees, after signing Mark Teixeira to an eight-year, $180-million contract, are not among them.
The Texas Rangers, who are capable of bold moves and would like to replace Milton Bradley's offense, are considering a pursuit of superstar free agent Manny Ramirez.
01/22/09: These teams are the most likely to get free-agent deals done
The Rangers have been quiet this winter -- their big move has been signing reliever Derrick Turnbow -- but are looking at a number of ways to improve. Owner Tom Hicks has shown a willingness to make big signings in the past (Alex Rodriguez for $252 million is the prime example), and the Rangers were the one team who showed interest in Ramirez five winters ago when the Red Sox were shopping him (discussing a Ramirez for A-Rod deal at the time). With the Rangers about to lose the free agent Bradley, who was one of the best offensive players in the game last year (.999 OPS) to free agency, their interest in Ramirez has increased.
Ramirez is said to be working out in Pensacola, Fla., a few hours north of where he makes his winter home in Miami -- and patiently (yes, that's the word a friend of his used) waiting for a job. The Dodgers and Giants still look like the most logical landing spots, with L.A. still seen as the favorite. The Angels and Mets are still showing no signs of joining the fray, and Yankees partner Hal Steinbrenner is thought to be against signing Ramirez, so it's still possible it'll come down to a battle of West Coast rivals.
01/26/09: Manny, Dodgers remain miles apart
One final push from Hall-of-Fame manager Joe Torre could do the trick. Torre just returned from vacation in New Zealand and could certainly stump for Manny. Eventually, the guess here is that the Dodgers get to three years.
While the Dodgers have held to their two-year, $45 million offer for Manny Ramirez, the star slugger is still seeking a deal of at least twice that in length.
01/28/09: Market watch: The latest on the best remaining free agents
Word is, Ramirez has told the Dodgers that he wants a deal for four or five years, and it's believed that he's looking to be paid in the range of $25 million a year. Going by those numbers, and assuming Ramirez would take a four-year contract, the sides appear to be at least $55 million apart.
No surprise, this could take a while. One executive whose team is interested in Ramirez said that he believes the Dodgers and Ramirez are no further along than the "fourth inning'' of the negotiations.
The Dodgers and Giants are currently seen as the two most active pursuers of Ramirez. The Dodgers have been viewed as the favorite to land the slugger who helped turn their season around last year, but the Giants are showing signs of serious interest, as well.
1. Manny Ramirez. The Man-child and the Dodgers appear to be in a stalemate, with the team holding at $45 million for two years and Ramirez wanting a deal for four or five years for between $25 million and $30 million per. The Giants, who are in excellent financial position, look like the biggest threat; although at least publicly they're saying they won't go crazy for Manny after diving into the market early. San Francisco already signed Edgar Renteria, Randy Johnson, Bobby Howry and Jerremy Affeldt, a commitment of more than $20 million for 2009, but if they don't get Ramirez the question has to be asked: Wouldn't that $20 million-plus have been better spent on Manny? The Angels and Mets say publicly that they won't go for Manny, while the Yankees already have upgraded their offense immensely with Mark Teixeira. So until further notice the two great West Coast rivals look like the favorites.
Now, if I can just convince Boras that Blyleven is worthy of the Hall of Fame...
Correction: Dennis Gilbert was Barry Bonds' agent in 1992, not Scott Boras.