Hometown Discount? I think not!

OK, just for some reference, so we can discuss the "hometown discount" theory that players should take slightly less from their current team to stick around for plainly sentimental reasons, let’s finetune the evidence and do this for just the clients of Scott Boras.   I will start it off based on some rudimentary Google research – I have made a note if any of them accepted contracts from the team for which they last played that were less than were offered by new teams during their free agency.

  • A-Rod: No hometown discount
  • Jason Varitek: No hometown discount
  • Jarrod Washburn: No hometown discount
  • JD Drew: No hometown discount
  • Carlos Beltran: No hometown discount
  • Chan Ho Park: No hometown discout
  • Kevin Brown: No hometown discount
  • Johnny Damon: No hometown discount

The only guy I can think of off the top of my head who took (an extremely minor) discount was Bernie Williams, but Bernie was being offered something like 10% more by the Sox than the Yankees (not a significant percentage like the 30% that constitutes the Damon Yanks/Sox differential). Also, feel free to contribute to the list of players under Boras’ umbrella who will be due large contracts at some point, below. At least we can warn the fans of those teams not to get too attached.

  • Mark Texeira
22 comments… add one
  • what on earth is the problem in beantown. all their players are running to exits without so much as a goodbye and thanks, run forest run. you would think loyalty should be a little deeper than it is. if you just list their starting team as if this was the first day of the season, the lineup would look like this. 1B-youkilis, 2B-lorreta,
    SS-a.cora, 3B-lowell, LF-manny-(providing he does not go),
    CF-A stern(whoever he is), RF-nixon, C-varitex, this is obviously a team is trouble, assuming they go aft er a CF, they will have to give a pitcher for a decent OF. i am sure glad to be yankee fan, boston is trying to replicate the sucess of the yankees without the first acquiring the front office people with the knowledge to build a team, cause for sure whatever epstien built, the red sox are trying to destroy itself slowly but surely.

    Anonymous December 21, 2005, 3:50 pm
  • A related question: what kind of power does Boras have over his clients that none of them accept the hometown discount? Is it that heartless, money-first players go to Boras, or does he bully his clients into accepting the highest bidder even against their own judgment?
    This isn’t even a hometown discount issue, it’s also a winning one – A-Rod and Beltran would have had better chances at winning championships if they’d stayed where they were. The only one who always wins with this kind of behavior is the agent.

    Sam December 21, 2005, 3:59 pm
  • I think we tend to forget that these are PROFESSIONAL athletes, not fans. The only reason for a “hometown discount” would be a) if it really was their hometown (i.e. Clemens and Houston), b) the agita of starting in a new town and all that goes with moving and getting settled in a new environment. How much is that worth? When you are talking the kind of money professional ball players make the “hometown discount” is probably meaningless.

    bronxborn December 21, 2005, 4:16 pm
  • If you look at players that aren’t repped by Boras I think the results are the same. A few people may stay around their real hometown (family and children and schools and such) but the reality is they go for the best contract with the most offered for their future…usually.
    I think Boras gets alot of newspaper play because he gets alot of money for his clients. The fact that people even thought a 7 year deal would be seriously considered by any team is a testament to Boras’ skill with the media.
    If anything, he got the Yanks and the White Sox to talk about 4 and 5 year deals (which they shouldn’t have been talking about in the first place).

    walein December 21, 2005, 4:20 pm
  • Yeah, I don’t really get that everyone is saying that $12M is negligible to a guy like Damon. Or that it somehow *should* be negligible, that to give it up and remain loyal to his franchise is clearly the honorable thing to do, the only right thing to do. It’s twelve million dollars! Negligible to Bill Gates or Warren Buffett, but hardly nothing even to an admittedly ridiculously highly-paid fellow like Damon. Why the Sox didn’t cowboy up the lettuce to match the Yanks offer, I’m not sure. I guess, as SF noted, they probably ultimately just didn’t think he was worth that much. And they may very well be correct in their assessment. So it goes. But, jeez, how can you blame Damon? I know it hurts, but Boras or no Boras, there are few among us who wouldn’t make the same decision as did JD, given the circumstances.
    As far as hometown discounts go, though, you could argue that Mo gave the Yanks a bit of a discount. Given the Ryan and Wagner contracts, imagine what Mariano would be worth on the open market…

    Spidey December 21, 2005, 4:32 pm
  • The $12.5 million gap is an interesting one, to me; it says much about the business of the game. The suggestion that Damon should leave that much on the table seems naive. Damon, at this point, is a mini corporation, and let’s remember first and foremost that baseball is a business. Any business takes its best offer.
    Looking at it from the other direction, it’s worth thinking about the mechanics of that $12 million gap. How did it get there? Should the Sox have closed the gap–did they have a chance?—and did the Yanks “overpay?” I suppose we’re not going to know the answer to that final question for some time.
    But over on Was Watching Steve Lombardi makes the interesting point that the moment the Dodgers signed Lofton, the fight for Damon came down to 2 teams, the Yanks and Sox. With the tender deadline at hand, it’s reasonable to assume (and we’ll see if this is true in the papers, maybe) that the Yanks offered Damon their package (which one assumes the economics of the Yankees allows, and which is comparable to Matsui’s deal), take it or leave it. How did they arrive at that number? I’m guessing it needed to be high enough beyond what they might expect any counter offer might be to just end the discussion. That’s what they did, and now they’ve got a new centerfielder.

    Anonymous December 21, 2005, 4:49 pm
  • It may be true that hometown discounts are pretty much fiction for any player, even those not represented by Boras. But Boras seems to get his players offers that render even the consideration of such a thing utterly irrelevant. Just look at Washburn’s deal, for an example. Was there much noise about a bidding war? Were the Angels not aware of his worth? Washburn got so much more money from the Mariners then the Angels (or most other teams) ever would have offered. The same is true for Damon – it seemed all along that the Sox were never, ever going to touch a contract even near $50M, and Boras got more than that from another team. He’s incredible at his job.

    SF December 21, 2005, 4:53 pm
  • You may be right. It does boggle the mind that Washburn was able to swing that contract. Maybe Boras jsut has a compromising photo of every owner and GM in the league and pulls them out at the right times.

    walein December 21, 2005, 4:57 pm
  • Okay, I just ran across this:
    “I want to stay here, but I may walk and go home. I might shut it down in a couple of years.
    “There’s no way I can go play for the Yankees, but I know they are going to come after me hard. It’s definitely not the most important thing to go out there for the top dollar, which the Yankees are going to offer me. It’s not what I need.
    “I’d like to finish my career here [Boston]. I’m not sure they’ll let me do it, if they offer me [only] two or three years [on a contract]. I want at least four or five.
    — Johnny Damon, 5/01/05, on MLB.com
    so maybe you have some right to blame Damon. Or were the above simply soundbites that Damon was coached to make by Boras the Dark Overlord in anticipation of the Yanks going after him hard in order to get Cash/Big G to think they had to overpay to get him? Which in turn would give Damon/Boras leverage in negotiations with the Sox. Not impossible. One way to get top dollar from a team who knows you dearly want to continue playing for them. But who can tell from out here. Hard to know what was really going on in old Shaggy’s head when pondering the options. You could pretty effectively argue that it’s extremely shady to attempt to hold up your own team like that. Then again, it *is* business, and it’s not like the brass anywhere ever feels compelled to be loyal to player who doesn’t play up to expectations or is loyal to anything other than the bottom line. I don’t know.

    Spidey December 21, 2005, 4:58 pm
  • But Rivera never made it to the open market as you correctly note, Spidey, and that’s a big difference. He doesn’t count in this (amateurish, unscientific) study.
    Had Rivera been on the open market, I wonder what would have happened vis a vis bidding wars and his ultimate decision. Whether he would stick with the Yankees for less would be total speculation and as we can see most guys who hit the open market take the biggest contract, as logic dictates. With one recent and notable Boras client (Jason Varitek) the player stayed “home”, but he also took the biggest contract. My own guess is that Rivera, had he hit the market in his prime, wouldn’t have proven much different: he would have been the best player at his position available and would probably be have been paid as such. Psychoanalyzing these players is impossible; just because we like them and they seem like decent guys (and Mo certainly qualifies as a seemingly decent guy) doesn’t mean much at all once they hit free agency. Just look at Andy Petitte.

    SF December 21, 2005, 5:04 pm
  • Okay: baseball is a business. And yes, Damon followed the money to get to Boston from Oakland a few years ago. But at this point in his career, given how much professional athletes make in the premier sports, _is_ there really a difference between $10 million a year and $13 million a year to a player? I mean, either way, you’re set for life. You can do anything you want with that money, and if Damon had chosen to stay in Boston, the loyalty he would have shown could have, I think, (a) opened up new endorsements to him and (b) made him even more the face that the Sox built around. There was no need to stab fans in the back like this, by not only leaving, but heading to the MFY of all teams. That said, you can keep the third and/or fourth year of Damon’s contract, when he’s slipping down to Bernie-of-last-year production numbers. It’s an unfortunate hole for the Sox (not to mention how unfortunate it is for Damon to have to shave his distinctive features so as to become another personality-less drone in the Steinbrenner empire), but one they could fill with Jeremy Reed, in all likelihood, and be not much worse for the wear (certainly in the long term). As long as we pay Ortiz plenty when it comes time to re-up with him, the Sox’ll be all right.

    JoshSFinMI December 21, 2005, 5:20 pm
  • Let’s not forget that j damon made his “sexy” guy media perception when he was still a short haired and clean shaven west coaster. I think we are all forgetting how much more money Damon can potentially make in a larger market like New York.
    Endorsement deals, being a part of a franchise that makes alot of money around the world on its name alone. All of that was part of the Boras presentation of the Yankee offer to Damon. Even more likely, Boras presented some number of millions a year in endorsement deals to Damon if he signed with the Yanks.

    walein December 21, 2005, 5:41 pm
  • I can’t think of many teams (particularly those committed to the sox philosophy of roster flexibility and cost-effective contracts) that offer hometown players extra money (“hometown inflation?”) to stay put. It’s odd that fans usually feel it’s the responsibility of the player to make concessions for sentimental goals.It seems like both sides are thinking about their bottom lines. Why does the player get the greedy label?
    Meanwhile, New York media pins the blame squarely on the transit union for the strike. Perception as usual in America.

    Nick December 21, 2005, 5:57 pm
  • Wasn’t it Pettite who said something to the effect of “I know the Red Sox made me a good offer, but I couldn’t do that to my fans and former teammates” before signing with the Astros? At least one person has convictions in baseball.

    Jaques December 21, 2005, 9:17 pm
  • Pettite went to the highest bidder, don’t forget. He left the “hometown” team. That’s the issue here.

    SF December 22, 2005, 6:11 am
  • I would love to see Boras screw up and wind up to have his wrangling leave a player getting less money that was origanlly offered. That might get the players that he reps to speed the negotiations along.

    Anonymous December 22, 2005, 11:20 am
  • I would love to see Boras screw up and wind up to have his wrangling leave a player getting less money that was origanlly offered. That might get the players that he reps to speed the negotiations along.

    OldElvis December 22, 2005, 11:20 am
  • Don’t hold your breath, OldE.

    SF December 22, 2005, 11:56 am
  • I think that’s Arn Tellem’s M.O., OldElvis. Just ask Nomah. :)

    Spidey December 22, 2005, 12:05 pm
  • I thought I put a comment here that said Paul O’Neill gave the home team discount, but I don’t see it.

    john yf December 22, 2005, 5:46 pm
  • Was O’Neill a free agent? Or was he signed to an extension, or within the sole team negotiating period? It makes a big difference. I don’t remember O’Neill being a true, unrestricted free agent, and returning to the Yankees. But I definitely could be wrong.

    SF December 22, 2005, 7:16 pm
  • What I remember is this: O’Neill said, I want to stay with the Yankees and I will take less than I could get elsewhere.
    I think he did that twice.

    john yf December 22, 2005, 7:29 pm

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