Tag Archives: winter meetings

Boras on NPB signing U.S. amateurs

This is a transcript of the chat with Scott Boras at the 2018 winter meetings in Las Vegas, when the nature of MLB’s signing bonus pools was screaming for a market correction from a strong rival league — enter NPB, and the SoftBank Hawks. Note the remarkable transformation that has come over Boras’ stance on the possibility of a U.S. amateur entering MLB as an international free agent since December.

–With the CBA and penny-pinching by MLB, is Japan an option? Have you talked to Japanese teams about amateurs?

“We have a number of players with Japanese teams. Of course, they’re limited to four per roster, so that part makes it a little bit more resigned as to what they do with prominent…”

“They have scouting teams and they are involved, but you would like to see it greater involved than what it is. We have had some very positive impacts. Japanese baseball is an extraordinary brand of baseball. It’s really good. It’s got good audiences. A number of those teams draw 2-1/2 million people.”

–I ask that because of the signing bonus pools depressing the prices for amateurs, there are so many…

“…No. I think it’s very wise for Japanese teams to take a look at that and take advantage of it. I think they should.”

–Have you got a response from Japanese teams about amateurs?

“I think it’s something that if they look at it and see the kind of value in that kind of player, you can go forward.”

–The NPB teams have been telling me about two-year deals so a player could re-enter the MLB draft or a five-year deal so he can enter MLB as a free agent.

“One of the real problems with signing with a Japanese team is that when a player leaves Japan, he comes back here, he’s still subject to the draft.”

–Even if he’s a six-year pro?

“If you’re in Japan and you’ve never signed here (in the States), then you’re still subject to the draft. That rule kind of restricts that.”

Scott Boras on the subject of amateurs signing in Japan. Dec. 13, 2018

The one and only Ichiro

Ichiro Suzuki is many things to many people. He’s funny, gregarious, warm-hearted, cool and focused. So much seems to depend on what he wants and where he wants to go.

I caught up with his agent, John Boggs at the winter meetings in Las Vegas, and he relayed some of his insight into the Japanese icon.

One of my Ichiro stories was during the 2009 World Baseball Classic. In the first two WBCs, Ichiro failed to do anything in the opening round in Japan. I was first up with a question at the press conference when Japan arrived in San Diego for the quarterfinal round.

Q: “Do you understand what might be the problem so far? For example is it your timing?

Ichiro: “I have no way of knowing that. Next question.”

Two or three questions later, a guy who writes frequently about Suzuki, asked the same question in Japanese and Suzuki launched into a three minute dissertation on the steps he’d taken to iron out his approach to the plate.

I told that story to Boggs, and said, “You know what it’s like if he doesn’t anticipate what someone is saying or it’s not on his radar?”

Boggs nodded and said, “He doesn’t hear you, and he doesn’t acknowledge you.”

My story on Kyodo News is HERE.