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NY Post
New York Post
24 Feb 2024

NextImg:Scott Boras’ view while sitting at center of Pete Alonso, Juan Soto’s free agency fortunes

Pete Alonso and Juan Soto both are going to be free agents. That is not a prediction.

Scott Boras said so when we spoke about AlonSoto (how do I trademark this?).

Boras offered that after Alonso avoided arbitration with a one-year deal and the Mets made it clear they preferred to revisit long-term negotiations after the season — a sentiment Steve Cohen confirmed by saying on a Mets podcast that he expects Alonso to test free agency.

Boras explained that Soto wants to play a year in New York to determine how he feels about the city and the Yankees before he makes a long-term commitment.

Scott Boras responds to questions during a news conference at the Major League Baseball winter meetings. AP

Now, if either New York team showed a hankering to go to the top of the market now, perhaps free agency for one or the other could be circumvented. But if history is our guide — and we are talking about Boras history — then especially his best clients tend to let the free-agent market determine their prices.

“My job is to look at each scenario and respond to the well-being of the player,” Boras said. “That’s the answer. Sometimes that’s staying with their team, and sometimes that’s going to a new team, and I could never, ever gauge that until you’re in that situation.”

Boras has negotiated 26 contracts of at least $125 million. Of those, just three were extensions — all done with the client due to be a free agent after the season.

Two of those were for Jose Altuve, who has demonstrated he wants to play nowhere but Houston. The other was Stephen Strasburg, who during his walk year was basically treated like a free agent by the Nationals with a seven-year, $175 million pact plus opt-outs after the third and fourth years. Plus, Strasburg had injury concerns that motivated when he could secure the bag that he should secure the bag.

Soto does not have ties to the Yankees like Altuve to the Astros nor any injury concerns to suggest acting quickly. Alonso has professed love for the team that drafted him, but no overtures about an extension the past few years had come close to an agreement.

Juan Soto participates in spring training workouts at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

Of those 26 contracts, five represented free agents who stayed put. Alex Rodriguez reportedly parted with Boras, and Hal Steinbrenner announced the Yankees would not re-sign their third baseman after A-Rod notoriously opted out during the World Series. Of course, the Yankees re-signed A-Rod for a then record 10 years at $275 million — and Boras was involved.

Strasburg did opt out then re-signed for the same reasons again — Washington went to the top of the market, and there was little certainty others would do so due to physical concerns about the righty. Carlos Correa signed a six-year, $200 million pact with the Twins, but only after failing physicals with the Giants and Mets.

The two that are most meaningful when it comes to Alonso are:

Brandon Nimmo, like Alonso, left his previous agents for Boras Corporation as free agency neared. But when the Mets pushed to the top of his market (eight years, $162 million) because they saw his skill set as hard to replicate, Nimmo returned. Will the Mets see Alonso’s power as irreplaceable? (Or might they go after Soto to replace it?)

    Chris Davis had led the majors in homers for the four previous seasons with 159, and Orioles ownership heard a fanbase demanding the slugging first baseman be re-signed. Alonso leads the majors in homers since arriving in 2009, and Mets fans love him. How much will that move Cohen?

    What should not be lost is that these are New York teams who can afford the top of the market. But Boras’ history shows his best clients do not often go from small to huge markets in free agency. More often, in fact, Boras will find a team hitting a spend cycle — doing so, for example, with the Rangers two decades apart: A-Rod’s then-record 10 year, $252 million deal after the 2000 season, and a half-billion dollars in contracts for Corey Seager and Marcus Semien after the 2021 season. Seager was leaving the Dodgers and Semien the Blue Jays — not exactly small-market clubs.

    In general, though, Boras’ best free-agent clients have switched teams like Semien and Seager, and Bryce Harper and Gerrit Cole and Xander Bogaerts and Max Scherzer (twice). Only one of the $125 million men were traded (like Soto) in the offseason before his walk year — Shin-Soo Choo, who did one season with the Reds before signing a seven-year, $130 million pact with the Rangers. Mark Teixeira and Kris Bryant were traded during their walk year. Both signed with new teams.

    Pete Alonso fields grounders at Spring Training on Friday, Feb. 23. Corey Sipkin for the NY POST

    When it comes to AlonSoto, there is still a long way to free agency, especially when you consider Boras still had the four most prominent free agents (Cody Bellinger, Matt Chapman, Jordan Montgomery and Blake Snell) unsigned in this market.

    Boras has signed significant free agents, such as Harper, after spring training camps have opened. And he said the slow movement for his best clients this offseason will not influence how he does business next year — when he has not just Alonso and Soto highlighting the class, but Alex Bregman and Corbin Burnes, too.

    He also dismissed that Alonso will get caught in a market that has shown less appetite for big first base contracts. The top free-agent first-base deal is the 10 years at $240 million for Albert Pujols, then Boras negotiated Prince Fielders’ nine years at $214 million and Teixeira’s eight-year, $180 million pact. Miguel Cabrera and Joey Votto signed $200 million-plus deals that were extensions, not free agency.

    But each of those were done more than a decade ago. The largest free-agent deal since is the heavily deferred six-year, $162 million deal Freddie Freeman signed with the Dodgers after the 2021 season.

    Boras said Alonso will be two years younger than Freeman was at the time of free agency and “there has not been a 45-homer-hitting first baseman on the market in a while.”

    As for Soto, he reportedly rejected a 15-year, $440 million extension from the Nationals during the 2022 season before being traded to the Padres. When asked if his client now has to get north of that, Boras said he would not discuss potential dollars — but noted that Soto would be a free agent after his age-25 season and “Did you see what [Yoshinobu] Yamamoto got?”

    It was allusion that without ever pitching an inning in MLB, Yamamoto (not a Boras client) topped Cole’s $324 million pitching record contract at $325 million, in part because organizations will go to huge levels for the combination of youth and talent.

    As this season begins, one of the biggest New York stories is just where will AlonSoto wind up — and how much will Boras get them?