Why are we suddenly hearing about the Boras-Salcedo loan story?
Scott Boras, who was not extensively quoted in yesterday’s New York Times story about the loan he made to Dominican prospect Edward Salcedo, spoke with Yahoo!'s Tim Brown. Boras’ side of things is that there was nothing at all wrong with the loan he extended. “This is a goodwill story,” he tells Brown, "“We did something we’re proud of. We have a young man who’s playing baseball who otherwise wouldn’t be.” Salcedo likewise brushed off the notion that Boras’ loan was exploitative, noting that he and his family asked Boras for the loan, it was never offered.
I stand by my views from yesterday: while such loans have the potential to be abused, and while union rules certainly should be followed in these matters -- and if Boras didn’t follow them he should be punished -- I’m struggling to see the problem in this instance.
And let me add one more thing: I suspect that it’s no accident that we’re seeing a series in the Times about potential exploitation of Dominican players right now. Indeed, I think we’ll see more of them between now and the end of the 2011 season.
Why? Because there is an interest on the part of Major League Baseball and perhaps some others to present the Dominican Republic as a wild west in need of taming. Because if things can be portrayed as sufficiently chaotic and dangerous down there -- drugs, loans, buscones, etc. -- it will be much easier to sell people on the notion that more regulation is needed. Regulation that will, inevitably, lead to things that will put a lid on signing bonuses and possibly lay the groundwork for that international draft that Selig and the owners desperately want. The time to lay that groundwork is now, in the run-up to the new collective bargaining agreement being negotiated next year.
To be clear: I’m not saying that there aren’t some ugly aspects in talent development in the Dominican. There are.* But the examples we’re hearing about aren’t exactly new and aren’t exactly egregious. I likewise believe that it’s important to ask why we’re seeing these stories now and to think about whose interest they benefit. Scott Boras has long been a useful villain for those who oppose free agency and I would not be at all shocked if he is again being used in that role with a greater agenda in mind.
*And, it should be noted, the most recent ugly aspect we’ve seen hasn’t involved agents or buscones, but employees of Major League Baseball teams themselves.