Drew signed with Arizona at the 11th hour, and Boras was able to establish a good working relationship with Rizzo, which paid dividends when Rizzo came to Washington in 2006 as an assistant general manager. To hear Boras explain it, the two are from the same cloth: former minor leaguers who had to scrap their way to a baseball livelihood.
“The idea was, we’re going to go out and take this game on anther way to beat it,” Boras said. “We’re going to understand it better, we’re going to know it better. We’re going to try to create a career some other way.”
Of course, it doesn’t hurt that Rizzo has been able to convince his owners, the Lerner family, to meet some of Boras’s high demands. But that’s in part because of the agent’s own relationship with the Lerners, which blossomed over a player the Nats actually missed on.
Following the 2008 season, Mark Teixeira was the best slugger available on the free agency market. Boras says Teixeira met in-person with Ted Lerner early in the process and told the Nats’ owner he’d likely sign with a team closer to contending. Boras said he, too, had several discussions with Lerner, and visited the Washington owner at his home in nearby Palm Springs, Calif. Lerner entertained him with stories about Pearl Harbor and his high school gym teacher, Red Auerbach. According to Boras’s telling, Lerner insisted on making an offer, which was reportedly slightly higher than the $180 million Teixeira accepted from the New York Yankees.
“I think [Lerner] realized I was being upfront with him. . . . I think they appreciated the whole process,” Boras said.
Sure enough, Teixeira won a championship his first year in New York. In 2010, Boras again had one of the top free agents, but unlike Teixeira, Jayson Werth had already won his championship. He had different needs. Boras knew an ideal landing spot would be in Washington, which had promoted Rizzo to general manager in 2009 and had recently drafted Strasburg and Harper. For Boras, the future was becoming clear.
Narrative steeped in dollars
In August 2010, Boras brought the future to Philadelphia in the form of three thick binders. Werth was heading into free agency and was interviewing agents. He invited Boras to town for a meeting.
“In that business, it’s not 100 percent,” Werth said of sports agents. “I don’t know what my exact perception of him was. He just wasn’t what I expected.”
Werth said he was most impressed by Boras’s friendly demeanor. The player thought they’d be talking dollars but those binders sat untouched.