When the Pirates were guided by the McClatchyfield regime, it was said that they would pass over a Boras client because they considered a Boras client a signability risk. Moreover, Littlefield reportedly avoided drafting Boras clients because he did not want to negotiate with Scott Boras. The meat of the claim: The Pirates would never pay a market price for a Boras client and Boras would never permit his ‘advisee' to sign a below market contract. Since the Pirates often had a Top-10 pick late in the McClatchyfield era, they often passed over the top talents ‘advised' by the so-called Super Agent during that time.
Littlefield's refusal to draft Matt Weiters, a Boras client, remains a conspicuous example of this strategy in action and the failure to draft Weiters appeared to be a factor that convinced Bob Nutting to fire Dave Littlefield.
The Coonelly-Huntington regime quickly revealed that it had a different strategy when it took Pedro Alvarez, a Boras client, in their first draft. Although the Alvarez negotiations were difficult and produced controversy at the end, they concluded nevertheless with a contract that satisfied both parties. The Pirates, is seemed, were committed to building through the draft and would not let an agent deter them from taking the players they wanted.
How has the organization fared since the 2008 Draft?
Since that Draft, the Pirates have established themselves as the market leader in acquiring talent through the Draft. Support for this claim comes from the quantity of money the team has spent in the 2009-11 drafts, the agents it has worked with and, more importantly, from the high quality of the players it has acquired during that time. Succinctly put, the Coonelly-Huntington Pirates took risks in their Drafts and made good on the risks they took. The Pirates leadership position in this market became hard to deny when the team took and signed Josh Bell in 2011, a player that had already indicated his desire to go to a college to play baseball. It is noteworthy that Scott Boras ‘advised' Bell during the negotiations, and that the two sides reached an agreement which satisfied both parties. Bell did not go to college. They Pirates convinced Bell and his family that their concerns would be met. What made the Bell signing significant was the fact that the Pirates added another top in Garret Cole, also a Boras client and the first pick in the 2011 Draft.
So, I would say that it is now plainly obvious that the Pirates will work with any agent, will not low-ball top talents and can bring difficult negotiations to a satisfactory conclusion.
And the Pirates became the market leader in the Draft even though the organization is a small-market, low-revenue-team.
This is just conjecture on my part, but I suspect Boras now considers the Pirates to be one of the better organizations for his clients. Previously, it was alleged that Boras told the Pirates to draft players he did not ‘advise.' Today, however, the Pirates can get contracts done, will develop the players they draft and, more importantly, will pay the market rate for those prospects they consider worthy of their projected asking price.
There is a bit of irony in this situation just as there is a bit of irony in the possible fact that Nutting might have retained Littlefield as the Pirates General Manger had Littlefield taken Matt Weiters in the 2007 Draft. Who in 2007 would have thought that working with Scott Boras would have signaled a return to health by the Pirates? Who would have believed it would happen?
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