SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Baseball’s most prominent agent criticized teams for a lack of competition, proclaiming rebuilding teams have caused four straight years of attendance drops, then said he senses a faster-paced free agent market that could lead to earlier signings this offseason.
Scott Boras, who represents top free agents Gerrit Cole, Stephen Strasburg and Anthony Rendon, accused many teams of entering last season with the goal of rebuilding through high drafts picks rather than competing for a title.
Standing in a courtyard at the hotel where general managers are holding their annual meeting, Boras said the decision of some fans to stay away from ballparks was understandable. Major League Baseball’s average attendance has fallen from 30,169 in 2016 to 28,339 this year, its lowest since 2003.
“In the big world, when you go to the zoo and half the bears are asleep, you are not able to enjoy the zoo as it should be,” he said Wednesday.
In a year of booms and busts, there were four 100-game winners for the first time and four 100-game losers for the second time. Boras said baseball’s economic rules, which have led some clubs to shed veterans, finish with poor records and earn high draft picks, encourage an attitude of “I don’t want to win 82 games. I want to win 69 games. You know why? Because I get rewarded for it.”
“In many ways the industry is in a competitive hibernation and the fans are reacting to it,” he said. “We’ve got a decline in attendance. We’ve got owners charging more for generations that want to see the game, yet we’re losing a generation of the young people that only are interested in competition. They want to see teams play well and do well. And we have this hibernation period where I will be good for two or three years out of 10 and not be good for the other seven…