NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A year after their megadeal with Scott Boras client Carlos Correa fell apart, there’s no indication the San Francisco Giants or the superagent are shying away from each other this offseason.
“We all understand the capacity to do it is there, and the desire, from our meetings with them, is there,” Boras said Wednesday at his annual scrum on the final day of the MLB Winter Meetings. “So we expect them to be very actively involved in the free-agent market.”
Good news, considering the Giants could use some of Boras’ clients if they aren’t able to land Shohei Ohtani or Yoshinobu Yamamoto.
He represents third baseman Matt Chapman, NL Cy Young winner Blake Snell and the top two center fielders on the market, Cody Bellinger and Jung-Hoo Lee, who was posted Tuesday by his KBO club, the Kiwoom Heroes, beginning his 30-day window to sign.
Any would be a nice fit for a team seeking to upgrade its outfield defense, find a co-ace for Logan Webb and add stability to its lineup. None of them signed in Nashville, though, as everyone awaits Ohtani’s decision, which MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reported is expected by the end of this weekend.
The biggest Boras client on the move at the Winter Meetings wasn’t a free agent at all, but Juan Soto, the 25-year-old superstar whom San Diego will reportedly send to the Yankees for a package of five prospects, putting a bow on the meetings with the only blockbuster of the week.
That’s one potential Giants target off the board, however unlikely the chances were of an intradivision trade of that magnitude.
Things should move quickly once Ohtani’s next team is revealed, though.
“It’s been an aggressive campaign for elite talent this Winter Meetings. But the idea that so many teams are involved in so many elite players … I think they have a 1a, 1b, 1c, 1d kind of thing for all the elite talents,” Boras said. “You can just tell in this market, the volcano has yet to erupt on the position player side, that’s for sure.”
As many as six free agents fall into that upper echelon, Boras said, but all have their flaws.
Chapman, 30, is a Platinum Glove-winning defender with impressive durability. But his bat has regressed since his best season in 2019, when he earned his only All-Star nod. No matter to Boras, as adept at making bad puns as he is garnering every dollar for his clients.
“I think the third-base market is usually one way or the other, there’s either some power or there’s some defense. Getting both in a player like that, not Gold Glove — platinum level — and getting power, you find that owners are a little bit upset,” Boras said. “So, really chapped, man.”
Snell, also 30, is one of four pitchers to win a Cy Young in both leagues. But this year, he did it while walking the most batters in the majors.
“When you look at Randy Johnson at 30 and Blake Snell at 30, you can actually see the guys who have led the league in walks — that’s the comment we hear most — have that strikeout, the mystery of having three pitches, whiff rates of 45% or more,” Boras said. “It’s just dominance.”
Bellinger, 28, is four years removed from being named the National League’s most valuable player at 24 years old. But he was non-tendered by the Dodgers last offseason after hitting .203 over the next three seasons, and even in his bounce-back campaign with the Cubs raised concerns with a hard contact rate below the league average.
The Giants pursued Bellinger last offseason, but he was prioritizing a change of scenery and was not interested in remaining in the NL West, according to a source familiar with the negotiations. That’s no longer the case, according to Boras.
“Cody has let (teams) know that he’s listening to everyone involved. There’s no exclusions,” Boras said. “This man has hit 40 home runs. We know that he has power beyond belief. But on the other side … the hard contact rate data has to be supplemented, and then you add the defensive component.
“How many people have hard contact rates that play center field and what they do with two strikes and low strikeout levels? I think you’re going to find out, wow, that’s a very small group of two or three players.”
Lee is the biggest unknown of all, coming from the KBO, which has only produced one major-league regular (Padres shortstop Ha-Seong Kim).
But he is only 25 years old, and when he was posted Tuesday, Boras said, “We had to hire operators to field all the calls because they came in fast and quick on him. So we know it’s going to be a very aggressive market.”
The only Boras client currently on the Giants’ roster is Michael Conforto, whom the agent used to draw a comparison to another potential fit in San Francisco, calling the market for former Phillies slugger and Sacramento native Rhys Hoskins “really good,” despite him missing all of 2023 after knee surgery.
“It’s kind of like when Conforto was on the market a year ago,” Boras said. “He hasn’t played for a year. Rhys has a great reputation as a leader, plus his 30-homer, 100-RBI consistency is something every team looks at. So we have a lot of suitors.”
Conforto eventually signed a two-year, $36 million pact that included an opt-out, offering a potential template for a Hoskins contract.
While Ohtani’s free agency has been shrouded in secrecy, with club officials scared to even mention his name, let alone confirm their meetings with him, Boras operates differently, as evidenced by the dozens of reporters he engaged for more than 30 minutes.
“I’m kind of a First Amendment guy,” he said. “I kind of think journalists are a very, very important part of our game. Their questions and what they do, (increasing) interest, those types of things are frankly really important to the promotion of the game, to the advancement of players, all those things.
“So, me? You know how we handle things. We always are as communicative as can be in negotiations without interrupting or violating the confidentiality of teams. I think everybody has their own method. Me, I’ve never put any restrictions on anybody for what they say.”