Video: Marlins welcome new pitcher Wei-Yin Chen
Scott Boras was never a major presence with the Miami Marlins, who rarely dabbled with the high-dollar players baseball’s best-known agent represents. No more.
On Tuesday, when the Marlins called a press conference to announce the official signing of starting pitcher Wei-Yin Chen to a contract worth $80 million, Boras was seated at the podium.
Expect him to remain visible in the coming years, perhaps uncomfortably so for the Marlins.
“When you have clients on any team, you watch them very closely,” Boras said.
And Boras has plenty of reason to keep an eye on the Marlins.
With the addition of Chen, Boras represents three of the team’s five projected starters, the most notable of them being Jose Fernandez (Jarred Cosart is the other), as well as outfielder Marcell Ozuna.
Even before the Chen signing, the Marlins and Boras have spent the offseason sparring in the press.
In November, after Boras openly objected to the team’s decision to leave Ozuna in the minors for six weeks last season, Marlins president David Samson retorted, saying that “My strong suggestion to Mr. Boras is that instead of resting on his 5 percent [fee] that he collects from his stable of players, he write a check and buy a team. Then he would have the opportunity to run a team that he claims to be so able to do.”
Boras would also like the Marlins — in conjunction with advice from Fernandez’s doctors — to establish a pitching-limit protocol for the young ace as he prepares for his first full season following Tommy John surgery. Boras made a similar suggestion late last season concerning New York Mets ace Matt Harvey, sparking controversy.
It wasn’t surprising, then, that in his introductory comments at Monday’s press conference for Chen, Samson lobbed a playoff jab at Boras.
“Welcome to Miami, Scott,” Samson said. “It’s always good to see you in person versus the newspaper.”
Afterward, Boras, in talking to a small group of reporters, made a not-so-subtle reference to Samson’s comments from November.
“I’m not in the business of running teams,” Boras said. “It’s not what I do. I work with players. That’s really my function. In the end, the teams are going to make the decisions about what happens.”
There’s little question, though, that Boras will have an influential presence with the Marlins for the first time in years. The last prominent Marlins player that he represented was catcher Ivan Rodriguez, and only then for the 2003 season.
It should be interesting.
CESPEDES NOT SOUGHT
Samson disputed a report that the Marlins would consider signing free agent outfielder Yoenis Cespedes to a short-term deal.
“We’re not in the market [for Cespedes],” Samson said.
The Marlins, however, might be in the market for an outfielder if they trade Ozuna. The Marlins have spoken to teams about Ozuna this winter.
The Marlins have filed a grievance with the league office involving the Washington Nationals’ recent hiring of Dan Jennings, Miami’s former manager and general manager.
According to sources, the Marlins are contending the Nationals aren’t paying Jennings fair market value for his new role with the Nationals as assistant to general manager Mike Rizzo.
The Marlins are required to pay any salary difference in what Jennings had been making before being dismissed, and what the Nationals will now pay him.
Construction is underway on the fences at Marlins Park, which are being shortened and moved in for the 2016 season.
According to Samson, the fences are being shortened from their previous height of 11-to-13 feet, to 6-to-11 feet.
In addition, the distance from home plate to the outfield wall in center is being shortened. In straightaway center, the distance is going from 418 feet to 407.