CARLSBAD, Ca. – Scott Boras has never made an effort to hide his contempt for the Mets and what he considers their miserly ways when it comes to spending on free agents.
In past years, he has likened their payroll to “shopping in the frozen-food section of the supermarket,’’ and last year he said, “They aren’t residing in the gated community of Playoffville.’’
On Wednesday, given another chance to rate the Mets as players in this winter’s free-agent sweepstakes, Boras could not resist yet another dig.
“Well, I think, frankly, like always, in the end the Mets will shop at Fred’s,’’ he said.
The Mets’ principal owner, of course, is Fred Wilpon. And “Fred’s’’ is a chain of discount stores concentrated in the Southeast that competes mainly with establishments like Dollar Tree.
Draw your own conclusions.
But most of Boras’ contempt these days is reserved for Brodie Van Wagenen, the former agent who renounced what Boras considers a higher calling to become GM of the Mets. In the process, Van Wagenen had to divest himself of his stable of clients, which included Noah Syndegaard and Jacob deGrom, who now work for him rather than vice versa and are facing what are likely to be contentious free agent negotiations in the next couple of years.
In his annual remarks at baseball’s GM meetings on Wednesday, Boras expressed concerns that an agent who switches over to the management side of the fence was in violation of his fiduciary duty to his client, and that as an agent he might have been given information in confidence by a player that now might be used against him in a negotiation conducted by a GM.
He stopped short of calling Van Wagenen’s behavior unethical – in fact, he ignored a question that asked precisely that – but also made it clear that he would rather not deal with the new GM.
“I have never spoken to Brodie Van Wagenen in my life,’’ he said.
Asked if he planned to have his first conversation with Van Wagenen at the meetings, Boras said, “I will talk to Fred or Jeff or John or Omar, who ever they assign to talk to me.’’
By that, he meant the Wilpons, elder and younger, as well as Wagenen’s assistant GMs, John Ricco and Omar Minaya.
But he maintained that whatever reservations he had about Van Wagenen would not stop him from attempting to pitch his wares to the Mets. Among his clients are closer Zach Britton, a reliever who could shore up the Mets shaky bullpen, and third baseman Mike Moustakas, who could provide some offensive punch to the Mets infield. Boras also represents Mets outfielder Michael Conforto.
“I have never said I have reservations about anything the Mets do,’’ Boras said. “I consider them to be free to do whatever they choose to do and how they do it. I will negotiate with anyone at any time that my client so desires me to do so. I do not let my personal philosophy interfere with any of that.’’
Van Wagenen disputed one of Boras’ points, that the two had never spoken. Apparently, they did between Boras’ address and the GMs media availability.
“I did get a chance to meet with him out here and we had a productive conversation about the Mets, and what we’re looking to do,’’ he said. “We introduced ourselves to each other. We have now spoken and we have now met.”
And he downplayed any personality clash that might make future negotiations difficult.
“I don’t have issues with his opinions at all,’’ Van Wagenen said. “There are a couple things I’ve always respected about Scott. One, his work ethic. Two, his preparation. If you work hard and are prepared you’re entitle to your opinion. I reject the notion that I’m going to be in a conflict of interest or I’m going to compromise my own reputation or my own integrity in my current role. I’m going to value players, I’m going to treat them with respect and I hope that everybody on both sides of the aisle will continue to do that.”
As long as it’s not the frozen foods aisle at Fred’s.