Scott Boras is a lot of things. He's a player's dream and an owner's nightmare. Fans see him as a greedy, money-hungry scrooge who puts the best interests of his particular client over the interests of the game.
But he's also predictable.
If you've followed baseball for a few seasons, you know how the Boras free agent carousel typically works. He never negotiates extensions, always opting to let his players hit free agency on schedule, and once they get there, he states, or perhaps exaggerates, their skills and standing among all-time greats. Several "mystery teams" proceed to swoop in and make astronomic offers, and the player typically winds up with a multi-year, multi-, multi-million dollar contract.
So does it strike anybody else as odd that Boras' recent comments about a contract extension for Robinson Cano, two full seasons before his current deal expires, sound nothing like something he would ordinarily say?
It's common knowledge that the best way for a free agent to score a big contract is get the Yankees and Red Sox in a bidding war with each other. It worked for Mark Teixeira, and Brian Cashman recently admitted that he feigned interest in Carl Crawford last offseason simply to drive the price up for Boston. The Red Sox would probably love to steal a star like Cano away from the Yankees, but they have they already have Dustin Pedroia locked up through 2014 with a no-brainer option for 2015.
I would imagine the Yankees are willing to pay Cano what he's worth on the market, but they won't bid against themselves for his services, and with Boston on the sidelines, who can be counted on to step forward and offer him the kind of 7-year, $140 million contract that Boras dreams about? Add that to the fact that Cano will be 31 at the end of his last option year, and while he's still likely to be a productive player then, it's not an ideal age to lock a player up for 6-8 seasons. Plus, with a reasonable salary for 2013, I'm sure the Yankees would be thrilled to have him accept salary arbitration for 2014, setting him up to hit free agency at 32, even further removed from his prime.
The Yankees hold all the cards here, and Scott Boras knows it. Cano's best chance at a $100 million contract is to negotiate something now, but with minimal leverage, he'll have to give up guaranteed years at the back end of the deal to get it. They might have to bend their team rules to make it happen, but if the Yankees ripped up Cano's 2012-13 option years and instead offered a 5 year/$100 million contract with a team option for sixth, they'd still be getting good value over the life of the contract, and most importantly, he'd probably agree to it.