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Boras speaks for all of baseball in concerns of A's future originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
Scott Boras knows how to own a room, even over Zoom.
Boras, the super agent to baseball's stars, held his virtual Winter Meetings news conference Tuesday and had reporters giggling and thanking him for his time. He handed out puns on a platter and talked up his clients. His attitude was chipper and the 68-year-old clearly loved having his time to shine. When it came to talking about the A's, however, his demeanor wasn't so cheery.
It sure sounds as if Boras, who is the agent of A's star third baseman Matt Chapman, has lost trust in owner John Fisher and his group promising a new stadium in Oakland. No matter how much A's president Dave Kaval tweets about a supposed future stadium at Howard Terminal, Boras seems to be speaking for the rest of baseball when it comes to skepticism surrounding the A's future.
"That is something a lot of us are concerned about or is an unknown,” Boras said Tuesday to reporters.
The A's have two premium free agents this offseason (Marcus Semien and Liam Hendriks) and two star players who are arbitration eligible (Chapman and Matt Olson). Oakland already is a franchise strapped for cash, and a pandemic-filled shortened season without fans in the stands doesn't help financially. Semien and Hendriks are seen as near locks to find new baseball homes this offseason.
So, why would Boras push for a long-term Chapman contract anytime soon? Boras recognizes the A's consistently are able to bring up great players around the same age -- Olson is 26 and Chapman is 27 -- but their financial flexibility constantly puts them in a bind. The problem, as Boras puts it, is the timetable in Oakland.
"The problem with the A’s always is the timetable," Boras explained. "That is, you bring four or five really developed players to the major leagues and they’re all there at one time. And all of a sudden, they’re at a place where, with only three years left in reserve, you have to say, ‘Can they meld together a team that gives this group, this class of players it took seven or eight years to develop from the draft to now, can they really provide the budget flexibility to give them the depth they need to really be competitive?’
"That’s really where the Oakland A’s are."
Boras in the past has shown confidence in the A's, and has pushed some of his bigger clients towards Oakland. Even Bryce Harper flirted with the idea of joining the A's at one time. Will that continue in the future with people like Chapman and players outside of the building?
It really all comes to down to the A's stadium "promises" and getting past false hope.
"They’re a good team," Boras said. "Obviously, they win their divisions. They play well. They have some extraordinary talent. But the question is always the depth, because when you get into the playoffs, you’re going to need the bench players to do that. That’s where the difficulty has been getting out of the first round of the playoffs, where you can really say you have a competitive roster.
"It can be done. It can be done, frankly, with an insurgence of a small amount of money, because you do have a core group of players who haven’t reached the optimum levels of their value in the baseball sense.
"It’s something that requires immediate attention rather than waiting for a stadium to arrive."
Immediate attention. The A's need to hear that loud and clear. They have great young talent. Jesús Luzardo (22), A.J. Puk (25) and Sean Murphy (25) all have graduated from top prospects to major players in Oakland when healthy. Ramón Laureano (25) is in his prime, as are Olson (26), Chapman (27) and Frankie Montas (27).
Boras spoke for the rest of baseball. No more promises, no more false hope. From players to agents and all the faithful fans in Oakland, we all need concrete answers on the A's future and a new stadium.
Time is ticking away.