Scott Boras: Interest up for Blake Snell, Jordan Montgomery

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Agent Scott Boras said Monday that, just in the past week, four new teams have inquired about free agent pitchers Blake Snell and Jordan Montgomery. The extent of the interest is unknown — as are the teams — but Boras said the calls for those players are beginning to pick up as the need for pitching increases.

“There is a pitching panic going on in baseball,” Boras said. “We’ve got so many starting pitchers that are now compromised. Maybe short term. Some long term. And the calls for elite starters are starting to increase.

“With many clubs right now, because of the pitching issue, the competitiveness of their seasons is at risk.”

Boras spoke at an introductory news conference for San Francisco Giants third baseman Matt Chapman. Chapman, 30, signed a three-year, $54 million contract over the weekend that includes opt-outs after each of the first two years. It’s a deal similar to one another Boras client, Cody Bellinger, signed last week with the Chicago Cubs. His was also for three years and included two opt-outs. Both deals came together well after the beginning of spring training.

“Definitely a strange market this year, and the free agent process was a little abnormal,” Chapman said. “Our goals were either to get a long-term contract that we felt I was worth; if not, get the short-term contract with opt-outs and bet on myself.”

Chapman cited a sprained finger that might have impacted his offense last year while with the Toronto Blue Jays — and subsequently his market. His OPS+ of 108 was the second lowest of his career.

“It wasn’t the strongest year in some people’s eyes,” Chapman continued. “So I wanted to make sure if I was going to do something long term, I was going to get the value that I was worth.”

Bellinger echoed similar sentiments recently, and, for the second week in a row, their agent cited variances in the market as to why it has taken so long for some players to sign. He pointed to a decrease in spending by anywhere from eight to 12 teams.

But the fact remains, free agents such as Shohei Ohtani and Yoshinobu Yamamoto, as well as another Boras client on the Giants, Jung Hoo Lee, all signed lucrative deals this winter. Lee inked a six-year deal for $113 million. Money has been spent, just not yet for his two available pitchers.

“I’ve had two teams change their minds about what they want to do,” Boras said. “You find that to be true because we’re in spring training.

“People think that you get a lot of phone calls and you turn a lot of things down. When you’re dealing with elite players, they have elite values. You don’t get a lot of phone calls. You get really almost nothing for months.

“When the need arises, then all of a sudden you get the calls because they’ve made the decisions to consider acquiring an elite talent. Only then do you have things to consider and evaluate. I don’t offer contracts, teams do. You don’t hear from them until that need arises.”

Of course, deals for players have been done all throughout the winter, presumably when teams feel they have a need. Boras seems to be waiting for the next round of interest, which he says is happening now.

“Ownership reaches for so many different avenues until there are no avenues to reach,” Boras said. “That takes time. They delve into it. They go into all different forms to avoid the obvious.”

The longtime agent seemed to indicate he understands the confusion by fans, considering Opening Day is weeks away and talented players remain unsigned.

“Why wasn’t this done in November?” Boras asked rhetorically. “Why weren’t No. 1 pitchers signed?”

Boras would not reveal whether he is seeking similar contracts — shorter terms with opt-outs — for Snell and Montgomery to the ones he negotiated for Chapman and Bellinger. And he said Chapman, unlike Bellinger, had choices.

“Matt could have gotten long-term contracts,” Boras said. “He could have gotten way more guaranteed money. But Matt Chapman chose to take a course where he bet on himself.”

Chapman, who is from California and played for the Oakland Athletics from 2017 to 2021, was asked whether he could have returned to Toronto.

“This was the best opportunity that I had,” he responded. “It checked all the boxes. I enjoyed my time in Toronto. This was the best opportunity for me. It made the most sense.”

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