CARLSBAD, Calif. - Scott Boras didn't become the most powerful agent in baseball by just speaking to general managers. He learned long ago that the best way to get into a team's checkbook was to take his pitch right to the folks who sign the checks, the businesspeople who own those teams.
So Boras did not hesitate to throw John Middleton, controlling owner of the Phillies, a few bouquets as he talked up his star client, free agent Bryce Harper, at the general managers meetings on Wednesday.
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"When the Phillies fell out of the race (this season), John stopped talking to the media," Boras said. "That kind of meant to me that he was not happy, and I certainly like owners who are not happy that they are not winning.
"He's really illustrated that he has a winning intent, zeal and competitiveness, and that attitude is appealing to all players. He wants to get something done in Philadelphia under his ownership. That is a very driven goal of his, a very important part of what he wants to do in the future."
Middleton is on record as saying he wants "his bleeping trophy back." It has now been a decade since the Phillies won that World Series trophy.
Just 26 and blessed with a world of talent, Harper could help the Phillies get that trophy back.
But it will cost big money to get the power-hitting outfielder. It's no secret that Boras is looking for a contract that will eclipse Giancarlo Stanton's $325 million deal. The general consensus at these general managers meetings is that the Phillies will win the Harper sweepstakes. Time will tell.
Boras has already had conversations about Harper with a number of clubs and he believes his guy will be worth every penny.
"Harper's bazaar has begun and it's fashionable, it's historical, it's elite and global," Boras said. "You're in a category of talent that is rare, a generational player, an iconic player. For his past franchise in Washington, the attendance went up over 600,000 fans and remained there. Their TV ratings have nearly tripled. Their franchise value went from $480 million to over $2 billion. You've seen an owner's dream happen before you.
"For an owner to know the rocket ship of economic opportunity is just blasting off because the player is just entering the prime of his career - you're talking about just a unique and rare opportunity for an owner."
Boras represents several Phillies, including Jake Arrieta, Rhys Hoskins, Nick Williams and Vince Velasquez. Arrieta is already on record as saying he will try to recruit Harper (see story).
"All the guys I have on that team, they're just really positive about the step they took last year because they feel they're very, very close to being competitive and winning," Boras said. "I think there's an expectation on all their parts that they expect this franchise and ownership that they want to add players, great players, to their teams. I think the players are excited about it, just the fact that they know the opportunity exists. There's a real positive environment ongoing there and I think they frankly have confidence that their owner feels the same way the players do in the locker room."
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