Red Sox slide not enough to keep agents away

Red Sox slide not enough to keep agents away
October 15, 2012, 11:26 pm

BOSTON -- The postseason missed for a third straight season. A last-place finish in the division for the first time in 20 years. A blockbuster, organization-altering trade in August. Another season ended in shambles. Organizational dysfunction. Poor communication. Sour clubhouse culture. Chain-of-command issues. A managerial search for the second consecutive year.

If you were an agent would you want your free agent to go to a team mired in that?

You might be surprised at the answers. Several agents weighed in with their thoughts on possibly having a free agent client join the Red Sox.

Would you steer a client away from the Sox?

Absolutely not, said one agent. No, its a tremendous place to play, great city, one of the best ballparks in the league, great baseball history. Theres a lot of guys who would love to play for the Boston Red Sox. Ownership has always been very supportive of the fans. Theyve always done a very nice job trying to bring the best players to put the best product on the field. Players love to play in Boston. I really believe that. I think it takes a special type of player to play in Boston and New York and LA and Chicago. But at the end of the day -- I can assure you this -- every agent would love to have the Boston Red Sox involved in one of their free agents because they know that its a first-class organization, first-class place to play, tremendous city. Absolutely 100 percent.

The Boston Red Sox have been around for 100 years and they will have no shortage of quality players who want to play for the Red Sox, said another agent. Organizations, management, players come and go and some teams are, at particular times, hotter than others or have a better culture than others. The Red Sox will be able to attract quality free agents and good players regardless of the hiccups theyve had in the last few years. Im very confident of that.

Up until December of last year, said another agent, I think people in our business had all due respect for the Red Sox and what they accomplished over the previous seven, eight, nine years and looked at it as an extremely valuable option to have in your hands if you had a free agent player. And obviously for a period of 12 months the wheels fell off. But that doesnt mean it will stay that way. I think its all the more reason why it wont stay that way.

I would certainly be open-minded to signing free agents with the Boston Red Sox. The guys up there in the front office are not stupid. And it wont, in my opinion, take long to right the ship. As far as Im concerned the major glitch in that 12-month period where the wheels fell off was making a horrible decision about who was going to manage the team.

It took until Dec. 1 to hire Bobby Valentine as the manager last season. But, the Sox didnt start interviewing until Oct. 31, caught up in negotiations with the Cubs to allow Theo Epstein to go to Chicago and the subsequent compensation. This year, the Sox began the interview process on Friday, eight days after Valentine was fired.

Would you be more guarded in dealing with the Red Sox until you know who the manager will be?

No, I think theyll hire a good manager, said one of the agents. In my mind that piece will be in place before free agents are making decisions, anyway. So I dont think thatll be an issue.

If youre a free agent who has multiple opportunities in different cities, you might wait to see who the manager is, said another agent. But if youre a good free agent looking for a spot to play, say hypothetically a starting pitcher, the Red Sox really need starting pitching right now, I think the spot and opportunity to play would be more important than the manager. But I also think the Red Sox are going to move fairly quickly on the this. I think the manager is going to be in place first before they start looking for players.

After sending their three largest contracts to the Dodgers in August, the Sox have said they are unlikely to be in the running for the big-money, long-term contracts it may take to sign some free agents. Would that cause you to shy away from the Red Sox?

I would welcome the opportunity for any of my clients to play in Boston, said one of the agents. I foresee Boston always continuing to be an attractive place to play for any free agent. The organizations front office does a tremendous job. I believe in those guys. They had a rough year. It was tough. But I think general manager Ben Cherington is going to do a great job. Hes a straight shooter. And I think thats the biggest thing. Agents like to deal with people that are honest and straight forward, and those guys are very straight forward and very honest and we as agents totally appreciate that.