Scott Boras

In battle of MLB owners vs. players, best choice feels like 'none of the above'

In battle of MLB owners vs. players, best choice feels like 'none of the above'

I hate them all.

MLB's owners, with their bad-faith labor proposals designed to make the players look greedy so they'll have someone to blame if the season can't be salvaged. The players, who are too stupid and undisciplined to decline the bait.

The billionaire owners, for crying poor and refusing to pay their minor leaguers. The millionaire players, for treating every offer like an insult to be doused in urine.

The owners, for using a pandemic to ram through a series of long-sought changes to the draft, the minor leagues, and maybe even a salary cap. The players, for failing to recognize the need to stop swinging the gold-plated Boras Corp. hammer of public messaging they typically wield like Thor.

I hate it, hate it, hate it. All of it.

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As we seek a return to normalcy, at least there's baseball to ground us in all of its infinite stupidity. While the NBA quietly negotiates a 16-team tournament with surprisingly little rancor, and the NHL announces that it will conduct a 24-team playoffs as soon as it is safe to do so, baseball and its players take turns poleaxing the sport in the face.

The owners started with a 50-50 revenue sharing model they were so certain was a nonstarter, they never even officially offered it to the players. They did leak it far and wide, however, which led to inevitable pushback from union boss Tony Clark, who sniffed that it was a blatant attempt to install a salary cap, which the players will never accept, certainly not with CBA negotiations looming next year.

Cue the predictable bemoaning of baseball's out-of-touch millionaire class, which is exactly what the owners wanted. They're skillfully waging asymmetrical warfare, since they need to shut only 30 mouths to close ranks. There are 900 players, though, and it only takes one of them swallowing his leg above the knee to sway public opinion.

Enter Rays lefty Blake Snell, a Twitch streamer depressingly short on brain matter who announced to his followers that, "I gotta get my money," in a tone-deaf rant last week that immediately overshadowed more nuanced discussions of health and safety from the likes of Andrew Miller, Chris Iannetta, and even Red Sox outfielder Alex Verdugo. Snell apologized, but damage done.

It should come as little surprise that he then fired his agent and hired Boras.

Ahhh, Boras. In normal times, he's unfairly maligned for securing monster deals. No one forced the Padres to fork over $300 million to Manny Machado, for instance. Boras is the best in the business and someone we'd all want on our side in a negotiation.

In normal times, anyway. But now?

If there's anyone who needs to stand down in the midst of a messaging battle, it's the man many fans consider the sport's avatar of avarice. "You don't privatize the gains and socialize the losses," might be an accurate appraisal of MLB's initial proposal, but it's not a sentiment anyone wants to hear from the man who just negotiated over $1 billion worth of contracts this winter.

Spending all this time focusing on Boras and the MLBPA, however, plays right into the hands of the owners. Their latest proposal, which calls for a sliding scale of pay cuts that would leave the lowest earners making most of their prorated salaries and the highest earners staring at cuts of $30 million (sorry, Mike Trout), feels designed to provoke another round of public whining.

That means they're still more concerned with PR than actually saving their game, and once you view their actions solely through the lens of assigning blame, it becomes clear how cynical their attempts at resuming play really are. It wouldn't surprise me if there's a faction willing to blow up the season to gain massive leverage when the CBA expires in 2021. These guys didn't become billionaires by playing nice.

We're already hearing about furloughs and pay cuts in the front offices of even storied franchises like the Cubs, and the A's just eliminated a $400/month stipend to their minor leaguers that ESPN's Jeff Passan estimated would've cost them only $1 million to maintain through August. The move feels as distasteful as whatever bubbles up through the drains in the Coliseum.

Meanwhile, the clock continues to tick. If the sides really want baseball to return by July 4, they'll need to reach an agreement sometime in the next 10 days in order to leave time to conduct a three-week spring training.

It's entirely possible the two sides are withholding their best offers until the 11th hour, and all of this posturing is just so much saber rattling before everyone finally acts in the game's best interests.

If that's the case, may I politely suggest they all go to hell? We've got our own problems at the moment, and picking a side in this loser battle ain't one of them.

Forget about Bloomingdale's — Red Sox will be shopping at this defunct discounter all winter

Forget about Bloomingdale's — Red Sox will be shopping at this defunct discounter all winter

The Omni Resort in Scottsdale features nearly 300 rooms spread across a series of villas at the foot of Camelback Mountain.

When the Red Sox contingent of Chaim Bloom, Brian O'Halloran, Raquel Ferreira, Eddie Romero, and Zack Scott arrived for the GM Meetings last week, they checked into Building 19, which caught the attention of an executive with New England ties.

"You know what that is, right?" he asked.

Of course, came the reply. It's where they're going to be shopping this winter.

For those who aren't local, Building 19 was a chain of discount department stores founded in Hingham with a motto of, "Good stuff cheap." They operated for nearly 50 years before declaring bankruptcy in 2013, and they specialized in the flotsam of everyone else's damaged, discontinued, or flawed remainders.

If there's a more apt description of how the Red Sox will fill their roster while cutting costs and maybe dropping the payroll below the $208 million luxury tax threshold, it's not springing to mind. Whether or not they trade Mookie Betts, they'll dumpster dive this winter, flipping through piles of irregular area rugs, stacks of Nikes with swooshes slightly askew, and reams of unicorn calendars that have gifted September a 31st day.

As monster free agents like Astros ace Gerrit Cole, Nationals counterpart Stephen Strasburg, or postseason star Anthony Rendon prepare to hit free agency, the Red Sox will be wandering the consignment bins, hoping to unearth a dusty dinged-up treasure.

That's a far cry from 2016, when the Red Sox and White Sox met at the very same resort to begin the discussions that ended with All-Star left-hander Chris Sale being shipped to Boston for stud prospects Yoan Moncada and Michael Kopech a month later.

"This is where we started our rebuild in earnest," noted White Sox GM Rick Hahn. "We were excited to get this process started, where we got the Bostons and the Nationals and the teams talking about acquiring premium talent and using premium prospects to get it."

The Red Sox aren't rebuilding so much as retooling, and while we've debated whether cutting salary is a suggestion or a mandate, there's no question that ownership won't endure a straight rebuild, not with a payroll north of $200 million and premium talents like Xander Bogaerts, Rafael Devers, and J.D. Martinez still on the roster.

Some aren't entirely convinced the Red Sox will cut payroll at all. Chief among them is super-agent Scott Boras, who obviously has a vested interest in the Red Sox continuing to spend prolifically.

"I don't know that that's true, by the way, because I have not heard that from ownership," he said last week when asked about the team slashing payroll. "Until John (Henry) or Tom (Werner) tell me that that's their objective. . . . Again, I have spoken to them and until they tell me that publicly, I would not in any way think anything other than that they're always winning owners who are trying to win again and again and again.

"If your goal is 'threshold,' then I believe you have to say that if that is a priority, a principal priority, rather than winning, I think it's something you say to your fans. I think you need to tell them that our goal is to operate to limits, and in no circumstance does winning get in the way to our primary goal. You know what? I've yet to hear an owner say that to his fanbase."

It's possible to have it both ways, though, as Bloom proved in Tampa, Derek Falvey is proving in Minnesota, and even Andrew Friedman has done in Los Angeles, where the big-market Dodgers have hacked nearly $100 million from their once-bloated payroll to create a much leaner contender.

That's going to require creativity of the type we laid out in the dissection of Tampa's three-way deal with the Rangers and A's that brought hard-throwing reliever Emilio Pagan to the Trop last winter. Bloom's Rays proved over and over that they could unearth winning players in unexpected places, and he'll need to bring that magic to a Red Sox club that will be looking to fill holes at first, second, starter, reliever, and almost certainly outfield when Betts and/or Jackie Bradley is inevitably moved this winter.

Plugging all of those needs won't be easy, unless you know where to look. Bloom's track record suggests he won't be embarrassed to bargain hunt. Maybe he'll even find some good stuff, cheap.

Ranking MLB's Top free agents of offseason>>>>

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Scott Boras explains why J.D. Martinez opted in to Red Sox contract

Scott Boras explains why J.D. Martinez opted in to Red Sox contract

An offseason filled with uncertainty for the Red Sox began on an encouraging note as J.D. Martinez chose not to opt out of his contract earlier this month.

Boston's prized DH decided to return for $23.75 million in 2020 rather than test the free-agent market. Wednesday at the GM Meetings in Arizona, his agent Scott Boras explained why.

“J.D. wanted assurance of competition at a high level and the fact that he played so well in Boston,” Boras said. “We looked at it and with those two things in mind, that was the focus. For that reason, he decided to opt in. The contract that we structured allowed him choices after each season. It was something that in this year, at this time, we felt like it was the best decision.”

Martinez enjoyed another stellar season at the plate for the Red Sox in 2019. The 32-year-old hit 36 home runs with 105 RBI and a .939 OPS in his second season in Boston.

“This is an elite bat,” Boras said. “This is very different than what DHs are, usually, to most teams. He’s a franchise bat so we always look at him that way.”

While Martinez's bat obviously will be welcomed back to the middle of the Red Sox lineup, his return casts even more doubt on Mookie Betts' future in Boston. Betts is set to become a free agent after the 2020 campaign and has repeatedly been the subject of trade rumors.

Martinez will get another chance to opt out following the 2020 season.

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