Agent Scott Boras on Thursday shot down any hopes the Kansas City Royals had of signing burgeoning star Eric Hosmer(notes) to a long-term extension, telling Yahoo! Sports he expects massive increases in television revenue to change the landscape of salaries in baseball.
"Athletes have to know that you have to look at the market you're in," Boras said. "You can't look at the markets of the past. For players like Hosmer, as you go back and look, as [Mark] Teixeira had his own market and [Prince] Fielder had his own market, Hosmer will have his own. And something tells me it's going to be a rather eventful one."
Hosmer, the 21-year-old first baseman called up by the Royals less than a week ago, is not due to become a free agent until after the 2017 season.
In his six days with Kansas City, however, he has smashed two home runs at Yankee Stadium, batted third in the Royals' lineup and impressed players, scouts and executives alike. Hosmer is the first in a wave of Royals prospects expected to change the fortunes of the woebegone franchise.
Kansas City Star columnist Sam Mellinger on Thursday suggested the Royals try to lock up Hosmer to a deal that would buy out his arbitration years and include options for his first three free-agent seasons – a deal similar to the one Evan Longoria(notes) signed with Tampa Bay upon his arrival and slightly less than the one Colorado outfielder Carlos Gonzalez(notes), a Boras client, signed last offseason.
Gonzalez was the rare exception for Boras, whose proclivity for taking clients into free agency as soon as possible has landed him some of the biggest deals in the game's history. He scored Teixeira the largest contract for a first baseman (eight years, $180 million), could eclipse it this offseason with the 27-year-old Fielder and expects Hosmer to reach free agency in the middle of a ripe financial era brought about by new local television contracts in large markets and a new national TV deal come 2013.
"The arbitration markets and free-agent markets are going to be vastly different," Boras said.
Considering networks happily funneled out a 12-year, $3 billion deal (or $250 million a year) for the Pac-12 TV rights and the NHL was given a 10-year, $2 billion contract ($200 million per annum), MLB's next deal should dwarf the seven-year, $3 billion contract it signed in 2006.
"Sports are not DVR'd," Boras said. "People stay and watch it. They don't flip channels. There's a broader way of understanding the market. There's huge values in sports broadcasting rights."
Boras expects that money to trickle down to lower-revenue teams such as Kansas City. But whether enough comes in that the Royals consider themselves capable of retaining Hosmer – or if Hosmer himself prefers Gonzalez's tack and asks Boras to negotiate a long-term deal with them – is too far off to consider.
Still, Hosmermania in Kansas City is palpable after his second-deck shot Wednesday and line-drive homer Thursday led the Royals to their first series win in New York since 1999. And it's just the start. The next position-playing prospect to come up for the Royals, third baseman Mike Moustakas(notes), is another left-handed, power-hitting star in the making. Oh, and they have one more thing in common.
Scott Boras is his agent, too.
- Scott Boras