When conversation about baseball free agent Bryce Harper turns to which team will make him the richest player in the sport’s history, the New York Mets are automatically eliminated from contention. And its not because the Mets have had money issues in recent years. You see, Scott Boras is Harper’s agent, and Boras has had a contentious relationship with the Mets, dating back nearly two decades. In fact, Boras wants nothing to do with the Mets.
In November of 2000, Alex Rodriguez was the Bryce Harper of his day and Boras was his agent. A-Rod was a free agent, after six seasons with the Seattle Mariners, and Boras was attempting to make him the highest paid player in history. He thought he had the big market Mets reeled in, especially since the Amazins’ were smarting from having lost the World Series to the rival Yankees. With the Bombers having owned the town, winning four World Series in five seasons, the Mets needed to make a splash. What better way to do that than snag Alex Rodriguez?
Boras had put together a hardbound volume of the 25-year-old A-Rod’s accomplishments. In early November, at the general managers gathering, Boras had a two-hour meeting with Mets GM Steve Phillips. According to the New York Times, Boras handed Phillips the book on Rodriguez, and when Phillips asked for two more copies to give to Mets ownership, Boras thought he and the Mets might have a deal.
Phillips said the more he examined the proposal the more he was turned off by it, telling the Times Boras was asking that Rodriguez receive preferential treatment that would “divide the clubhouse.” Supposedly a luxury car for A-Rod, a suite and a billboard campaign that would “receive a bigger presence around New York than the Yankees’ Derek Jeter” were all part of A-Rod’s demands. Boras even asked that the Mets provide a tent, during spring training, to sell A-Rod souvenirs and that Rodriguez should also be permitted to review the Mets minor league system.
Phillips said the conversations with Boras were over, setting off a he said, she said battle in the media. “This is absolutely a misrepresentation of what I told him (Phillips),” Boras stated about A-Rod’s demands. But Phillips countered: “I know what he’s (Boras) saying now, but I’m telling you he made it clear to me and I heard it elsewhere, this is the necessary structure.”
Other clubs, also interested in Rodriguez, seemed to back what Phillips said, despite bluster from Boras, that if the Mets weren’t interested, 13 or 14 other clubs were. In the end, Rodriguez had to “settle” for the Texas Rangers, who provide him with a 10-year $252 million deal.
We all know what happened from there. The Rangers could not afford the contract and peddled him to the Yankees, where another contentious relationship developed among A-Rod, Jeter and the Yankees management.
Rodriguez, of course, has moved on, settling his differences with the Yankees to the point where New York now uses him as a part-time adviser. A-Rod has also built a successful career as a television commentator. And these days, what Boras is asking for Harper makes the Rodriguez deal pale by comparison.
However, some things never change, and in this case it’s the relationship between Boras and the Mets, a relationship that soured in November of 2000.