Scott Boras Comments on Mark Appel and the Pirates

Mark Appel didn’t sign with the Pittsburgh Pirates, but we’ll probably be hearing about him at least until the 2013 draft is over. Scott Boras addressed the media today at the Winter Meetings, and Rob Biertempfel had the following quote about the Pirates’ chances of signing Appel:

“There was no communication with us (before draft). We certainly would’ve let them know we didn’t have a fit there. These players have options when you have that kind of talent. That was an unfortunate event for all of us.”

Boras is known for his games, so even if the Pirates would have talked to him before the draft, it would have been hard to believe him. This is an agent who had Josh Bell send out a letter to every team telling them not to draft him. The Pirates did draft him, paid him $5 M, and he ended up signing. The Appel situation is a bit different. The new draft rules restrict spending, so the Pirates can’t offer big money to Appel. At the same time, the new draft rules restrict spending, so Appel isn’t likely to get big money from any team. That works both ways. The Pirates would have to pay big penalties to sign Appel, or would have to focus their entire draft around him, or both. Appel isn’t going to find a team that would do that, since no team did that this year.

Drafting Appel wasn’t a mistake. It’s a good risk to take to try and get a guy who wasn’t expected to be there at eighth overall. The Pirates will get the ninth overall pick next year as compensation. Perhaps the most disappointing thing about all of this is that the Pirates had a pre-draft deal with David Dahl, who hit for a .379/.423/.625 line in the rookie leagues. The consolation is that there will be a talent like Dahl available next year at number nine. It’s unlikely that there would have been a talent like Appel at number nine. It didn’t work out, but the Pirates made the right choice going for the best talent.

For Boras, the draft is still an unknown. Under the old system, guys could refuse to sign, go back to college or Indy ball, and get the money they wanted the following year, even if they fell in the draft again. Under the new system, Appel is either going to have to be drafted in one of the top spots, or Boras is going to have to find a team willing to focus their entire draft around Appel. That second part is a risk. The Pirates took a chance this year, and Appel went back to school. If Appel falls next year, he could run into the same situation, with a team willing to play chicken to see if he’ll sign for slot, rather than skip signing for a second straight year.

Overall, it’s a new draft system. Boras is taking a gamble with Appel. That might pay off, and it might not. The Pirates made the right move in taking Appel. In hindsight it is easy to say that they could have contacted Boras to find out Appel wouldn’t sign, since that’s what happened. Before the draft it would have been hard to know if that was just Boras playing games, or if he’d actually take Appel back to school another year. Not to mention, the chances of Appel falling to the Pirates before the draft seemed very slim, since he was expected to go first overall right up until the draft started.

Biertempfel also mentioned that Boras commented on the Navy SEAL training. The key quote here is as follows:

“I think when you go to practices that are untested and that are certainly not the norm, it’s going to raise a level of concern. You want to be fair with every team, with how you evaluate them. But the benefits and detriments certainly need to be looked at.”

That’s pretty much been my take from the start. The Navy SEAL training is fairly new in sports, but is a growing trend. The long-term benefits are still in question. That’s going to raise the concerns Boras points out. That doesn’t mean the training is bad, it just means it’s an unknown that needs to be monitored. Bob Nutting said that those types of training methods will be scaled back in the future, which I’d guess would impact the “Hoka Hey” methods more than the Navy SEAL drills.

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Tim Williams

Tim is the owner and editor in chief of Pirates Prospects. He started the site in January 2009, and turned it into his full time job during the 2011 season. Prior to starting Pirates Prospects, Tim worked with, providing MLB, NHL, and NFL coverage to various national media outlets, including ESPN Insider, USA Today, Yahoo Sports, and the Wall Street Journal. He also writes the annual Prospect Guide, which is sold through the site. Tim lives in Bradenton, where he provides live coverage all year of Spring Training, mini camp, instructs, the Bradenton Marauders, and the GCL Pirates.

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  • buster09

    I listened to an interview with Boras today on MLB XM,and it is pretty difficult to listen to him and not try and figure out his angle. All you had to do was hear him tell you just how close the Royals and …wait…the Mets ( ! ) are to being ” great ” teams,and you know what you are dealing with. I myself don’t consider him the devil,but he is what he is : a great agent and a terriffic used car salesman.

  • Lee Young

    Tim…that’s the first time that I heard that we had a pre-draft agreement with Dahl.

    Had you reported on that? Did someone else?


    • Tim Williams

      Baseball America reported that.

      “Pursuing Appel was a worthwhile gamble, but it led the Pirates to scrap a predraft deal with David Dahl. It’s hard to have a good draft
      without signing first- and fourth-round picks.”

      • Lee Young


      • Lee Young

        Getting Barnes was like having a low round pick.

        He and Mathieson are looking good so far, but time will tell.



        • Lee Young

          low “FIRST” round pick.

  • Rebel

    Not a used car salesman… He’s the best in the business like him or not. He tells teams what it will take and more often than not he gets the deal done at his figure. Pirates played chicken and lost. Yes they get to pick #9 but the pirate track record of picking the RIGHT player is not exactly on there side. They had the right player Dahl then out smart themselves . No communication with Appel or boras before they took him speaks volume. Bell was signed because the scout as Greg Smith has been quoted did his homework on the kid. Doesn’t appear to be the case with Appel. Hokey Hey!!

    • Douglas Alexander

      That is a very childish way to look at it. Lost?

      If you want to look at it in those terms Boras and Appel could easily be the ones who “lost”. We’ll have to wait and see where he gets drafted next year. He could end up losing a lot of money.

      And if his talent was so clear then why did 7 other teams pass on him? In order to not lose money Appel has to get drafted #1 next year, in a stronger class, by the Astros, and convince them to give him more than 6 million this time around. Chances are that Appel loses several million dollars when this is all said and done.

      • michaelbro8

        “In order to not lose money Appel has to get drafted #1 next year”
        – actually not true. Boras has a defined tactic to deal with the new rules, and we’ll probably all find out if it works or not with Appel next draft. They’ll go public early that Appel will NOT sign unless he gets ‘X’ amount of dollars. If Boras’ plan works, all the early draft teams will pass him by, and a team like the Yankees will snatch him up and pay the money.

        • Douglas Alexander

          He can certainly try that, but under the new rules I highly, highly doubt it will work. The penalties for going well over slot are just too high for any team to really consider it. Even free spending teams like the Yankees value prospects and the draft much more than they used to.

          The Astros certainly won’t do it, and any team that drafts him after #2 will have to go over slot just to give him the 6 million the Astros offered last year.

          If Boras demanded 8 million, and the Yankees actually drafted him and paid him that amount, they would have to pay 100% tax on the overage of their total draft spending, and more importantly lose their first round pick the next two seasons.

          More importantly, as a college senior Boras and Appel will have absolutely no leverage in negotiations whatsoever. The only option Appel has is to play indy ball for a year and hope he gets drafted #1 in 2014……for a third time.

          His best bet is to get drafted #2 by the Cubs and try to get 6 million out of them, but considering his non-leverage 6 million would be very generous of the Cubs.

          The most likely outcome is that Appel loses money as a direct result of Boras.

      • Rebel

        They selected Appel and didn’t come close to signing a premium pitcher in the draft. They did no work on him to even see if they could sign him. They not only lost out on signing Appel but lost out on signing Dahl who turned out to be a steal for Colorado. So yes they lost again on adding talent to an organization that is starving for top end talent. Boras didn’t play any games. He told everyone that asked what Appels price was. Everyone in front of the Bucs passed. He had options to go back to Stanford for his last season. Something most Stanford players do regardless of sport. Most Stanford kids stay all 4 yrs. most of us look at it as he has a chance to lose money. Those attending Stanford want to graduate. He knows he’ll make his money. If I was drafted by the pirates with this regime I think I’d be going back to school and hope for a different team next draft.

        • Douglas Alexander

          “They did no work on him to even see if they could sign him.”

          Where exactly are you getting this information? Oh, I see, you are imagining it.

          The Pirates offered Appel 3.8 million, which was the most they could have offered without losing their first round pick this season.

          Boras didn’t play any games? Boras does nothing but play games.

          Everybody in the industry thought the Astros were going to select Appel at #1 until about 5 minutes before they made the pick. Find me one article before the draft that cited a source about the possibility of Appel falling.

          A great player fell to the Pirates unexpectedly, they took a chance on him and gave him their best offer. It didn’t work out. It’s unfortunate, but this witchhunt is ridiculous.

          • Rebel

            Offering 3.8 million doesn’t mean they did work on him. Houston had a deal done with there pick the day before the draft. As he was flown in for a physical after an agreement was reached. Which is why is was at the studio 42 ready to be selected #1.
            The pirates did NO work on him because they never expected him to be available at 8. That’s fact and both sides know it. Appel was selected because Coonley wants to beat Boras in the worst way. No games were played by Boras. He told every team that called what expectations would money wise. How many Boras clients lose money in the end?? Very very few. You may not like his tactics or as you refer to as games, but like him or not he’s the best agent in baseball. Fact is Pittsburgh never expected him to be available so they seen very few games he pitched in. Never met with him before the draft for the same reason. Selected him so they didn’t have to go through another Weiters situation on passing top talent with the media.

            • Tim Williams

              So many of these comments are not facts at all. They’re assumptions.

              “Appel was selected because Coonley wants to beat Boras in the worst way.”

              The Pirates took two Boras clients in 2011. When are we going to retire this? Do you honestly think Coonelly had anything to do with the selection?

              “No games were played by Boras. He told every team that called what expectations would money wise. How many Boras clients lose money in the end?? Very very few.”

              This doesn’t sound like Boras at all. Boras always plays games. He typically comes in with ultra high demands, and then lowers them to something high, but more reasonable than the original demands.

              “Fact is Pittsburgh never expected him to be available so they seen very few games he pitched in.”

              That’s false.

              “Selected him so they didn’t have to go through another Weiters situation on passing top talent with the media.”

              I think it was more that he was the top talent on the board, and they haven’t been afraid to make that pick. This was one of the few cases where they didn’t get the guy signed.

              • Rebel

                Hokey hey!!! Somewhere Dejan is smiling.

            • Lee Young

              Why would that horse patoot be smiling? He hasn’t got a clue what he’s talking about anymore.

  • Brielle Schlittler Reicks

    I don’t think much of your analysis.

    You quote the first part of Boras’ statement that the Pirates couldn’t have signed Appel and absolve the BMTIB because Boras is known to play games and then you take the second quote about the Hunger Games training methods and you take that quote at face value and use it to absolve the Pirate brass again in that it doesn’t play a role in signings.

    I think its quite a bit more likely that Boras is saying between the lines that the Pirates training methods are questionable and unproven, therefore a giant negative as far as his clients are concerned. Any unknown variable is a negative whether your an agent or an attorney. Pretending it doesn’t play a role is willful blindness regardless of how far you want to bend to defend the smell coming out of the front office.

    • jlease717

      Exactly. But you’ll never get people here to agree.

      Boras paused and smiled. “My understanding is they decided to do away with the K-rations,” he said.

      There’s a fact for you. Make your own assumptions.

      • Tim Williams

        “There’s a fact for you. Make your own assumptions.”

        No, that wouldn’t be a fact. That would be Scott Boras making a joke.

        • Lee Young


          Some people just can’t seem to get that tin foil off of their heads. Amazingly people still buy into that kind of crap.

          Which is why DK has a job. He makes those tin foil hats for Pirate fans and people ‘buy’ them.


  • Lee Young

    From Beer Temple this morn:

    “Agent Scott Boras said the Pirates didn’t have much of chance of signing Mark Appel, their first-round draft pick in 2012, but the team’s paramilitary-style training methods were not a factor in the outcome.”

    Looking back, I would like to have Dahl in the system, but I’d take that shot on Appel every time.

  • Rebel

    You’re exactly right Lee. Take a shot at Appel every time. Not one person would argue that. However, in the draft you do you homework on signability with players that are first round type talent. They visited Pedro, Cole, and Bell. They didn’t have any meeting nor did they call Appel before selecting him. These are facts not assumptions Tim. Take down the picture of Neil by your bedside Tim and go investigate. Ask some tough questions and be the reporter you claim to be. Had they done the work on Appel as they did Dahl we’d have the hitter we need. 7 teams passed on a player who they knew couldn’t sign him. Our best front office in baseball should have know this. And when Appel sent his twitter message after being selected it was over before it started. The best front office in baseball dropped the ball again. Hokey hey lets get ready for 21 in a row, because after this best front office in baseball trades the best power hitter and closer we have, like them or not they produce, where most teams trade to get better we seem to get worse.

    • Lee Young

      Rebel….perhaps you need to start rooting for another team. Your venom would make a black widow jealous.

      Not buying any of your drivel. Sorry.

      • Rebel

        I love that!! Venom to make a black widow jealous!!
        No venom Lee, I love the Bucs like everyone here. And let’s be honest and admit Neil has made improvements. It’s better today than when Littlefield was here. But seems every step the pirates take forward comes with more steps back. The trades are poor and some of the drafts are confusing. But through it all cole, heredia ect have been added. Im frustrated like many others. Tired of us being the laughing stock of baseball. Hokey hey and not signing a 1 st rounder. How many teams didn’t sign their first rounder this past draft? Why is it always us? Maybe venom but its more frustrating because I love the pirates like all if you.

  • wkkortas

    I’ll say now what I said at the time. One of the good things about NH is that the man has the stones of a cat-burglar; he’s not afraid to do things that aren’t popular. Still, seven teams had the opportunity to draft Appel, and seven teams decide he was too tough a sign. If you take the risk to draft Appe, you’ve got to be pretty confident you can sign him. The Pirates are going to live and die by draft and development, and they can’t afford to do things like whiff on their first-round picks.

    • Lee Young

      Everyone said we didn’t have a prayer to sign Bell. We signed him. We had the cajones to draft him. Calculated risk, imho.

      Apparently the risk was greater than Dave Dahl, who, according to some of yinz is the next great thing. Right now, he is hitting for average and has a good arm, but he projects as a corner OFer without corner OFer power.

      And, they ain’t whiffed yet. They still get that extra pick this year.




      • wkkortas

        I’d say the Pirates would be better off with Dahl and Barnes in the system than Barnes and a draft pick–and keep in mind, the Pirates draft pool is 8.8 million dollars, and they have to shoe-horn two first round picks into that. In my book, that constitutes a clear whiff.

        • wkkortas

          Plus Bell signed under different draft rules, which is clearly comparing apples and oranges.

        • Lee Young

          Different rules, sure, but my point was more towards the ‘cajones’ part.

          And don’t worry, we’ll have enough money to sign all of the picks we need to sign.

          9 and 14 won’t cost that much. Last year was a total of $4.6 mil. That leaves $4.2 for the rest of the draft.

          We spent a little over $2 mil, I think after 1st round.


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