I'm late to the Scott Boras-Pedro Alvarez party, but Neyer and others hit it pretty hard and pretty good already, so my two cents on the incident itself isn't worth all that much. I will say, however, that while some may paint the Alvarez gambit as classic Boras a la the J.D. Drew and Travis Lee business from years past, this strikes me as a somewhat desperate and ultimately self-defeating move on the uber-agent's part.
Desperate because, let's face it, Boras has had a bad year. He bungled the A-Rod opt-out situation, and was basically cast into the wilderness by his biggest client. As the year has gone on, more and more pre-arb players are signing big deals that, on the whole, are probably going to benefit clubs more than they do players, and that's bad for Boras. Maybe worse for Boras than other agents, in that a lot of the guys signing these deals are exactly the types who abandon their original agents for Boras as they approach free agency. Now that they won't be approaching free agency for a long time, Boras has lost both dollars and potential new clients. In the face of his veterans spurning him and his young players bypassing him, Boras, like a wounded predator, feels the need to go after younger, more vulnerable prey: the newly drafted.
But such a move may may be self-defeating in that, as this Forbes piece notes, if Boras is successful in making Alvarez and maybe even Eric Hosmer free agents, ownership is likely to make the draft issue #1 in 2011 when the CBA is up for renegotiation. Sure, they should do that anyway because the draft is kind of broken, but rather than approach it from a "how shall we fix this?" perspective, ownership will no doubt attempt to target Boras as personally as the CBA process will allow.
How? How about by pressing for a strict NBA-syle slotting system, complete with bonus caps and other draconian measures for minor league and younger major league players? You laugh, of course, because rarely in recent history have the owners ever been able to truly get tough. They wanted contraction and didn't get it. They wanted salary caps and didn't get it. There are tons of other things they never bothered trying, because hell, what's the point?
But this time they may have an unexpected ally in the players. Maybe not the union leadership itself, which is duty-bound to oppose the owners at almost every turn, but by the rank and file who has never really had a hard time bargaining away the rights of minor leaguers who aren't at the negotiating table. If you think that veterans who got $50,000 signing bonuses back in the day wouldn't like to reign in those given out today, you're crazy. What's more, you can bet that ownership would be willing to give away some concessions that would largely benefit vetarans if it meant getting the players' agreement on some Boras-screwing measures related to how the draft is conducted.
If such a thing were to occur, everyone would cloak their positions in the language of preserving competitive balance and "saving the draft." And there would be some truth to that. But the fact of the matter is that spite is a powerful motivator. The owners want to spite Boras. I'm sure a lot of players want to spite the young guys whom they feel haven't "earned it" yet. If those two impulses can get together, Scott Boras may rue the day he tried to mess with the draft.